FC Gifu 0 : 2 Avispa Fukuoka
13′ Sakata, 63′ Kanakubo
Avispa lined up with what I think it probably our most attacking, creative line-up of the season at Gifu. As one of the lowest scoring teams in the division I think this is probably a good idea in games like this, and saw midfielder Mishima play at right-back and a midfield pair of Funayama and Kanakubo who both look to get to the edge of the box and shoot from distance.
Ishizu is ideal in this formation as a left-winger who can drop back and get the ball, dribble as a winger, and is very willing to shoot; and while Jogo doesn’t seem to really like playing right wing he scores a lot of goals from there and has the freedom to drop back as he can without leaving no-one up front.
Gifu had the fairly surprising decision to include Kanye Vincent from the start having only signed him in the week and presumably not had much time to work together. He looked like he had some good movement early on, but unsurprisingly didn’t really link up with his team-mates and drifted out of the game as things went on.
Gifu’s primary tactic seemed to be to target Mishima at right-back. A fairly sensible decision seeing as he isn’t the best defensively, and would stop him adding a body to midfield, but as it turned out Mishima did very well, rarely being beaten one-on-one or getting caught out of position.
At the other end I had previously been impressed with Desmond, but could see why he has attracted some criticism in this game. He is a big guy and rarely gets beaten, but didn’t seem to move very much from the D of the penalty box through the game.
Avispa were holding the ball and trying to break down the Gifu defence which was getting increasingly busy when a simple ball over the top from Park Gun landed in space between the centre-backs. I don’t know who was supposed to be picking up Sakata, but nobody did and he finished very well with his head. Until the Ehime game I don’t think I’d ever seen Sakata score with his head and now he’s scored 2 very good ones.
AVispa continued to try and break down the Gifu defence patiently, but were putting as much effort on not being caught at the back. Sakata did manage to get the ball in the net with his head again after a short corner but was correctly ruled off-side, and the 4 immediately behind him (Ishizu/Jogo/Kanakubo/Funeyama) were all putting in long shots of varying quality which kept the keeper on his toes.
I think it is of upmost importance to our game that we keep doing these long shots. If opposition teams know they can’t just sit back and congest the box then it will make more space for us to try and pass through.
Pusnik didn’t change anything at half-time again, something I was very pleased about again, and it allowed Ishizu to go out and give 10 minutes hard running before Kanemori came on first change.
It looked at times like we might give Gifu a way back into the game as the game wasn’t killed off, and Vincent should have got a debut goal after being picked out with a cross straight onto his head which he tried to head into the near corner but missed. I imagine that he hasn’t always been a target man, but coming to Japan it will become more of his game as someone a little taller than a lot of the defenders around him and he needs to be thinking about going far post with headers in this situation.
Kanemori had a good chance to score on a quick break, and would have scored but for a good strong hand from the Gifu keeper before Kanakubo got the goal his preformance had deserved to make the game safe.
After again being able to get the ball to the edge of the box it was then placed into the top left corner after work from Sakata and Jogo had made a bit of space for Kanakubo to line the shot up.
Okada and Nishida came on to keep the pressure on, although with the game safe I would have liked to see Ushinohama given another chance to show what he can do in a game.
There was a late chance for another debut goal, this time from Gifu’s new Korean striker, but he skied a shot under pressure after being in the right place at the right time to collect a Kamiyama parry.
My Man of the Match – Yuta Mishima
He wasn’t fantastic, and perhaps Tsutsumi or Sakata gave a better all-round performance, but was targetted for the first half an hour as a 19 year old playing out of position, and didn’t let himself or the team down. I don’t know how many times he will play at right-back before that is his position, but if he enjoys it it certainly could be headed that way.