Kyoto Sanga 2 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
After a few games against some of the ‘weaker’ teams in the division which has seen us climb into the play-off spots we have now started a run of games against the absolute hardest clubs in the division, which are either going to make or break our season.
First up were Kyoto away, and after playing in Kagoshima last season it was actually in Kyoto this time.
Pusnik continued to tinker with the team a bit, understandable as we were up against a very different proposition to the teams of recent weeks, with a draw a good result. It did however mean that Okada was brought back in from the start, a player I think is fairly limited; and the guy who made way was Ishizu, someone who has been a bright point in recent weeks with his energy and running for 60 minutes.
It did look to have made sense at half time with the game still goal-less, and the experience of the Avispa players really counting against a team trying to pull us out of shape. Well, the midfield was experienced, the defence included Tsutsumi and Park at centre-back and Mishima at right-back again; but it says a lot for those guys that they are now an established and comfortable looking unit to the extent that Koga really isn’t being missed.
Both teams had chances to take the lead, and it was looking a little bit like whoever would score the first goal would take the game.
Avispa had the best couple of chances, both falling to Jogo who was coming off his wing to the middle and being picked out by balls when on the shoulder of defenders. As expected Kanakubo was the guy who was most effective in playing balls through to him, and is someone who will hopefully stay fit and be a key player until the end of the season.
It wasn’t a great game to watch, and with both teams evenly matched it looked like a mistake might decide things.
Unfortunately that mistake came from Nakahara. Avispa were trying to build slowly, and Kyoto showed that a level of directness can be an easier way to score goals, especially on hot days when everyone is getting tired. Nakahara tried to chest down a long ball forward and succeeded in only giving the ball straight to a Kyoto player who was able to run straight at goal. After his initial shot was blocked the ball came out to the edge of the box and was finished into the far corner.
Avispa had to chase the game, and this made more space at the back which Kyoto could exploit to get a second goal and seemingly make the game safe.
2 goals down and with a defensive looking line-up on the pitch Pusnik had to throw caution to the wind and brought on 3 attacking players in Ishizu, Kanemori and Nishida.
We started to go for it, and the substitutes showed that attack can be a good form of attack as the pushed Kyoto back and clawed one goal back.
It was a decent goal with Nishida showing lots of running down the right wing and putting in a dangerous cross to the near post. Sakata demonstrated that he may be really returning to form with a classy back-heeled finish to give us a chance to get a draw.
If Sakata can start scoring like he did when first coming to the club then it gives us a real chance of making the play-offs and doing well in them.
My Man of the Match – Jun Kanakubo
Very rarely gives the ball away, plays with his head up, and is our most creative player from midfield.
If we are going to make the play-off he needs to be in the team and playing well until November.