Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 0 Ehime FC
9′ Sakata, 17′ Jogo
After 1 point from the last 2 games Avispa really needed to get all 3 this weekend to stay within touch of the play-off spots.
The team came out looking a little different from the previous 2 games (Pusnik certainly seems to favour a policy of squad rotation, which at the moment at least doesn’t seem to have upset the players) with the biggest surprise being Mishima coming out at right-back.
For a 19 year old who has never played a full match in his natural position (I’d thought he was an attack minded midfielder) it was going to be a huge ask to fill in at right-back. It also seemed a little unnecessary as Tsutsumi has done well there this season, so I assume it was a change made with an eye on tactics.
The start of the game looked like it might be a horrible miscalculation as Mishima was out of position and struggling to get back for a ball played through to the inside-left position, but a combination of a bad first touch and Kamiyama making himself big blocked the chance.
The changes to the team looked like they might continue as new signing Chris Kinjo (a Japaese-American who has spent his career thus far in German youth teams) was introduced to the crowd, and Brazilian striker Tele spent the whole game sitting with the unused squad players.
At the other end Osmar came back into the team and was doing his standard hard-running, but still hasn’t really looked like scoring this season after getting so many in the second half of last season.
As part of a unit though the attack was working well.
What Mishima wasn’t doing so well in defence he was certainly always available in attack, which opened up greater width on the left for our most potent weapon of the season; Omata, to send in crosses.
After a corner won on the right the ball ended up going out for a throw-in on the left Nakahara played a controlled ball back to Omata to send a cross directly onto Sakata’s head at the near post. It was a well-timed run, and excellent cross, but Sakata still had work to do and guided the ball into the net well to score what is I think the first headed goal I’ve seen from him.
Avispa were playing the ball around midfield well, and the 2nd goal wasn’t a big surprise when it came. The route wasn’t that surprising either as another cross from Omata was flicked to the back of the box by an Ehime defender where Jogo had time to bring the ball down and shoot back across goal to score.
Avispa were well in control, and could have added another goal after some quick breaks to the egde of the box, but it didn’t really seem to matter as we were so much in control that it looked like we’d see the game out.
Pusnik made one of his characteristic changes at half-time as Kanemori came on for Osmar. While I am very happy to se ehim using all three substsitutes all game I’m not sure if I agree with this change at half-time each game.
Surely it would be better to tell a player to go out and give 10 minutes of non-stop running after a 15 minute break and then make the change, especially as Osmar has been quite effective in the first half.
Pusnik would probably (correctly) point out that within 5 minutes of the restart his substitution won us a penalty as Kanemori was pulled back and down at a corner.
He certainly celebrated like a man who’d seen his change pay off, but unfortunately Sakata hit a fairly soft penalty and Ehime were given a bit of a boost.
Avispa had more chance to score, most notable near the end of the game when a Bergkamp-esque piece of skill from Nishida saw him running straight at the box. You could see he wanted to go all the way to score goal-of-the-season, but intelligence won out as he squared for Jogo in space who then wasted the chance by hitting tamely at the keeper from the edge of the box.
As the game went on it started to look like Ehime were the more likely to score, but lacked some quality up front when heading at goal, with Kamiyama being equal to their shots when they did get shots on target.
It seems like Mizutani has been teaching him the face-save as he blocked one header on target, had a strong hand at the near post for another and saw one shot drift wide after Park was wrong-footed and another hit the bar.
The upturn in Ehime’s fortunes could mostly be put down to our attack not being able to hold the ball high enough up the pitch, and the arrival of Shigematsu into the Ehime attack. He didn’t look the live-wire he had as a 19 year old for Avispa (more a slightly rounder, low centre of gravity type), but still caused some problems and is a player I’d love to see back at Avispa if he could get fit.
Official man of the match – Hiroyuki Omata
Can’t say much more than he defended totally solidly, and provided assists for both goals. He has probably been the player of the season so far based on the last couple of months.
My Man of the Match – Nakahara
Not as obvious as Omata, but this was far and away his best match for Avispa. Did a lot of work on the edge of the box in helping to break up Ehime’s attacks, and used the ball calmly and sensibly to launch out attacks. He keeps getting better, and will hopefully continue to do so as he gets more experience.