Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 1 JEF United
49′ Sakata, 90+4 Yamaguchi,
Before the match I’d have been very happy with an away draw after the week we have had, but after conceding another goal in loss time, and one which was very controversial it is hard to look at the table and think where we could have been.
After injury time goals conceded to lose against Kyoto, and draw with Mito and JEF we could have had 5 points more than what we do now if games finished after 90 minutes. That would put us on 20 points, level with Gamba in 2nd.
At least the goals against Kyoto and Mito were valid. The goal today was scored after a nothing ball was floated into the penalty box from deep for Mizutani to catch, where upon JEF defender Yamaguchi jumped into him and headed the ball from his hands into the goal.
You could say that Mizutani was a little casual, but in modern football you aren’t allowed to challenge the keeper in this way; and at no stage have you ever been able to head the ball when he has both hands on the ball.
After the mid-week dismissal of Kanakubo for what looked like absolutely nothing I hope somebody somewhere is checking betting patterns on the betting exchanges, and whether some referees are suddenly appearing at work in new cars.
A draw was probably a fair result in the end. Avispa had been fortunate to be on the end of some quite poor finishing from Kempes and Yusuke when both had shots from inside the box. Kempes’s shot was on the turn through a crowd, but Yusuke had to at least force a save after being sent free on goal by a Kempes through ball.
Apart from riding their luck on those chances I thought that Avispa had again stepped up their performance. The pressing in attack and midfield was the best it has ever been, and having now played some of the bigger teams like Kyoto, JEF, Verdy, Yamagata, we can hopefully have confidence in the system against some of the weaker teams.
Our goal came from a great quick counter. Mizutani released the ball with a quick throw to Nakahara on the right wing who ran forward with it to get into a position to cross.
It looked like Kanemori was trying to lay it off for Jogo in the middle but the ball went across him and throught he defender behind to set up Sakata 1-on-1 with the keeper. Showing great composure (hopefully feeling better after scoring mid-week) he slotted it past the onrushing keeper.
It put us into a 2nd half lead, but could easily have only been an equaliser had Kanemori not run the length of the pitch and put a last ditch tackle in on Kempes after an Avispa corner had been cleared and countered.
To see a forward run the length of the pitch and slide in at the last minute to block a shot in the box pretty much sums up how we have changed from last season, and are now working very hard.
By the time JEF did score we could have been out of sight but for a good block by the JEF keeper from another Sakata shot.
Jogo was amazing today, I had no idea he had the level of fitness he has shown this week. From one of his interceptions he fed a ball to Ishizu from the right which bobbled out to Sakata behind him.
It looked very similar to the goal which Kanakubo smashed in against Kitakyushu but took a little longer to fall and allowed the keeper time to rush out and block his first time shot.
If I had one small complaint about the performance today it was we should never have given JEF a chance to score in the 94th minute. On a couple of occasions the ball came out to Ishizu high on the pitch and just needed him to hold the ball up as Sakata had done amazingly well when it came to him. At these times he tried to run onto balls, and get past players when all he really needed to do was kill some time and buy a foul if anyone got too close.
He is still only in his 2nd season, and will hopefully see Sakata and learn from matches like today.
My Man of the Match – Hisashi Jogo
It would have been Nakahara who was tidy throughout and dictated play well and with intelligence, but he seemed to drop off in the last 10 minutes, either from tiredness or nerves.
Someone who just seemed to get better as the match went on was Jogo. He didn’t stop running in his 3rd full match in a week, and was as big in defence as he was in attack.