Avispa Fukuoka 0 : 0 Vissel Kobe
A goalless draw usually indicates a game which is fairly forgettable, but this one was probably the best game I’ve seen this season. It was going end to end for long portions of the game, and only remained goalless due to some excellent saves by both keepers.
Avispa lined up with a slightly more defensive formation than has been seen recently at home, but the changes definitely worked out well with Okada getting around the pitch in midfield, and Tsutsumi being excellent at left-back.
Mishima got his full debut in place of Kanemori, and had some good touches while sometimes being bullied off the ball a little too easily.
Each team had a similar formation and tactic of pressing high up the pitch, with Kobe looking a little more threatening due to the presence of the impressive Tashiro at the head of their formation who was getting his head to everything with Popo and Mazinho giving no time to the Avispa players either side of him.
Despite a couple of early attacks it was Avispa who came closest to opening the scoring after a free-kick from Kanakubo hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear. It couldn’t have come much closer to going in, and wouldn’t have been unwarranted as Avispa were expansive in attack and solid at the back with Koga putting in probably his best performance for the club on his return to the team.
As the teams came out for the second half there was the expected change for Avispa as Kanemori came into the team and immediately became one of the key players on the pitch. He isn’t much bigger than Mishima, but has an ability to ride through challenges better and use his upper body more effectively.
Jogo was trying to make runs into the right channel, and Nakahara finally spotted him and played a ball for him to run onto. Sliding Kanemori through on goal it looked sure he would score but ended up hitting his shot too close to the keeper.
Avispa seem to now have a tactic of using the wing and putting low crosses into the box, but I don’t know why they aren’t playing balls into the channel more often as the wingers both prefer to be running onto balls, especially Jogo.
Within 10 minutes Koga made his only real mistake of the game by giving Mazinho too much space to turn on the ball and slip through free on goal. It seemed even more certain to be a goal than Kanemori’s, but Mizutani pulled off a fantastic save diving down to his right.
He would go on to make 3 more saves from headres at the back post (our weakness this season) to keep us in the game. He was only beaten once, but Park Gon had done very well to get back on the line to slide in and clear.
There was time with 10 minutes left for Kanemori to have a chance to win the game for us after chasing down a ball being played back to the keeper, but his shot went just wide after being forced out wide in going around the keeper.
It was a good point for Avispa, but more than the point it was a good performance from a young team. I thought the best player on the pitch was Kobe’s striker Tashiro; a big guy who won everything in the air and held the ball up really well. On looking him up it turns out he is from Fukuoka, and went to Fukuoka University.
It will be great to make the play-offs, but the biggest effect from Pusnik’s first season will hopefully be in showing the best youngsters in the area that if they come to Avispa they will get chances to play which will help us more than anything in the long run.
My Man of the Match – Mizutani
All the defence did well in this game, especially Koga and Tsutsumi, and will hopefully take confidence going forwards, but if it wasn’t for Mizutani pulling off 2-3 amazing saves we wouldn’t have got anything from this game.