Avispa 2 : 3 Tokyo Verdy
This match might be the most disappointing that I have ever seen at Level-5. There have certainly been worse performances, and maybe that is why it was so bad, but in terms of how I felt at the end of the game this one is probably the most gut-wrenching.
The game started with what I believe is out best midfield/attack combination, with all of our experienced and ‘best’ players playing in close to their best positions, with Okada on the bench. The defence was more of a worry with Mishima continuing to play at right back, and Miyamoto playing on his ‘wrong’ side at left-back. Along with the still inexperienced pairing of Tsutsumi and Park in the middle it isn’t the strongest defence in the world.
The defence didn’t stop us from playing what is probably the most confident 1st half I have seen this season. We kept the ball and were playing with heads up and towards the opposition goal. Sakata had excellent movement, Ishizu was running the channels as he does, and Jogo was finding space (even if he did then end up not being picked out and spending much of the half waving his arms around).
Funayama can be a very classy player in the middle of the pitch, and alongside the pace and trickery of Kanakubo is clearly our best central 2.
We were looking dangerous, and got the goal our attacks deserved as Ishizu got the ball on the edge of the box and hit a shot which crept just inside the far post. There were times in the half when it was crying out for someone to just shoot at goal; this is the key thing which Ishizu brings to the squad, a willingness to shoot. Unsurprisingly it means that he scores, and is something the rest of the players should learn from.
Tokyo Verdy were getting frustrated in midfield where Suzuki Jun was predictably useless and should have been reduced to 10 men after their Captain lashed his leg out after being tackled by Nakahara. Even if he hadn’t made contact after kicking out on the floor he should have been sent off, as it was he caught Nakahara in the head opening a cut up which needed him to go off the pitch and get bandaged. For some of the dubious red cards I’ve seen this season it was odd to see a guy kick someone in the head and not get sent off. Apart from that decision the referee was good, but it was quite a major one to get wrong.
Avispa then got a second in a similar way to the first as some neat play involving the front 3 saw the ball tee up for Ishizu to smash home a shot and seemingly put Avispa in total control. Again it is a bit of a concern that it is only really Ishizu who takes shots at goal from all sorts of places rather than ‘at the end of a move’, but it didn’t matter too much being 2-0 up and in total control.
Kamiyama did make a couple of good saves, and Takahara looked the best player on the pitch at times, but as the game went on his influence diminished and it looked like we could just ride the game out to a good home win.
Avispa made in 15 minutes into the second half without conceding, but were offering up chances rather than killing the game. Most notably as someone hit the bar from just outside the box, and their left back hit a shot just wide.
This encouragement to Verdy was also making Avispa nervous rather than playing with the confidence which had made them so strong in the first half. Just as we reached the 60 minute mark which would probably be enough to kill off Verdy they scored. The ball came down the right wing where Miyamoto was doing ok playing out of position, but not comfortable and was crossed to the opposite wing to be struck home by the #16 who should have already been off the pitch after kicking Nakahara in the head.
Pusnik tried to change things to calm the team down, but unfortunately by bringing on Okada he probably made the situation worse. We were dominating Verdy in the first half by forcing them backwards. Okada isn’t able to do much beyond try and be a bit of a nuisance in midfield, by conceding posession to Tokyo and hoping our defence with young players and players out of position could hold out we just encouraged Verdy further.
Having said that Kanakubo did nearly restore the 2 goal lead as a curling shot from out side the box hit the bar and bounced out.
Having lost Ishizu’s energy we then lost even more as Kanakubo came off for Nishida. The tokyo bench must have been rubbing their hands as having scored the goal to get back in the game we then took off the 2 players who had caused them the most problems in the first half.
Able to push forward with just 2 at the back we conceded another last minute goal. With almost everyone back in the Avispa penalty box and trying to hold out their all-out attack Jogo plyed about 4 people onside and a hopeful shot managed to find a way through about 10 players and get past the un-sighted Kamiyama to make the game a draw.
Our situation could be summed up by the quite desperate move of taking Sakata off and bringing on Omata to play in midfield. We had taken Tokyo apart in the first half by attacking, and were now ending the game with a left-back in midfield, while a right-back was playing left-back and a 19 year old midfielder was playing right-back.
The team couldn’t believe that after the dominant first half we were now drawing and pushed forward in desperation to get a last minute winner. It was all too little too late and ended up losing the game as Tokyo broke forward quickly after an Avsipa attack and scored from a 3 on 2 situation.
Suzuki Jun showed that as well as being shit at football he also has a total lack of class by celebrating like he’d single-handedly just secured promotion to J1, rather than been a passenger while his team beat the club who had looked after him since he was 11 years old.