Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 1 Referee Kumamoto
30′ Nishida, 101′ Fabio
Without question this game is one of the most exciting games of football I’ve ever seen, and will be remembered for many, many years to come by the 7500 who braved Level-5 Stadium on a wet and cold June day.
Unfortunately a lot of why it will be remembered is for what is the worst refereeing display I’ve ever seen, by a guy who seemed to have a total mental break-down halfway through the game.
I don’t usually like to know the names of referees (I think a good referee is someone you don’t even notice let alone know the name of) but in this case I’ve made a point of finding out who he is; Takumi Shinoto (篠藤 巧), and he shouldn’t be allowed to referee another game of professional football in his life.
The game started with Avispa playing a very obviously faster paced game than has been seen in the last 2 weeks. While they won those games, the performance wasn’t great and they looked a lot more energetic here.
Balls were being played forward quickly and Sakata forced a save from the keeper after 15 minutes with a shot aimed at the corner from distance.
We were still trying to build from the back with short goal-kicks, but the attacks seemed a lot faster and more direct. Omata was a clear target on the left wing where he tried to use his delivery into the box which has been such a potent weapon for us in recent games. One of his crosses managed to just miss Nishida, Sakata and then Jogo as all 3 reached for it in turn but couldn’t quite make a connection.
At the other end Kumamoto seemed to laregly be relying on Fabio’s height (he seems to get bigger every time I see him) to get flick-ons for the other forwards to try and break through onto. They were playing on the last man, and timing runs well. The closest they came to score was when the #28 (who was quite impressive throughout) curled a shot from the edge of the box which Mizutani saved well.
The weather wasn’t making the game easy, and lots of players were slipping. One of these slips lead to the opening Avispa goal. First the Kumamoto #5 slipped and was dispossessed by Jogo who aimed a ball towards the box where the keeper and #22 made a total mess of dealing with what have should have been easy. I’m guessing the keeper mst have made a call as the defender jumped over the ball, but Nishida hadn’t given up on it and snuck between them to round the keeper and score in an empty net.
Avispa were leading, but had already picked up a few yellow cards. A few of these were merited, but mostly seemed to be given out with no rhyme or reason as to who had been fouled, or if there had even been a foul.
During the course of which Nishida managed to pick up 2 yellows to be sent off. You’d say that after getting a first yellow with a bad referee he should be careful, but he was. For his second yellow he appeared to get fouled in the middle of the pitch, but to the astonishment of everyone he got sent off.
From then on Avispa were stuck in defensive mode as Kumamoto aimed more and more balls at the box. I have no idea how Fabio failed to score from one of these at the back post, and one goal was ruled out for off-side (which as much as the referee seemed to favour Kumamoto, didn’t look that offside to me).
Still we had held out against Thespa in similar circumstances and were doing ok, but then the game got crazy as Mizutani went down while planting his foot for a goal kick. Fujimoto showed his total lack of class by complaining about time-wasting, but after initially saying he would play on Mizutani went off.
Having used all 3 substitutes it meant that Jogo would further solidify his legend status at the club by playing in goal for the last 15 minutes.
Kumamoto started aiming more and more high balls into the box where playing with 9 vs. 11 and with a striker in goal must have been thinking they would win the game.
As it turned out Avispa defended resolutely with 8 men behind the ball at all times. While Jogo did make a couple of saves it was down to the defenders to throw themselves at everything and try to stop shots on goal.
Level-5 was as loud and full of atmosphere as I’ve ever heard it.
Players were going down with cramp every 2 minutes, but it started to look like we could hold on until Fabio was in the right place at the right time to finish well as a defensive header landed on the penalty spot.
The game played out it’s last minute, but still had some drama as after making a point of not shaking hands with the referee, Osmar took it a step further and gave a big thumbs down gesture right in his face.
It was a silly action, and he collected a red card for it, but I don’t think it was anything that every fan in the stadium (including the Kumamoto fans who had travelled up to watch a game of football but got a pantomime) didn’t want to do.
My Man of the Match : Ryu Okada
The match will be remembered for Jogo who bravely went in goal, but Okada showed what being Captain of the club means today.
He isn’t the most gifted footballer in the world, but he covered every inch of the pitch today and kept his team going with encouragement and calmness in very difficult circumstances.