Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 1 V-Varen Nagasaki
5′ Sato, 21′ Jogo, 27′ Sakata
Avispa came into this match in danger of losing their 4th game in a row; a result which would start to see them start to lose contact with the play-off places.
We have been doing well at times, but facing some of the toughest teams in the division, and needed to pull out a good result in our first ever game in the newest Kyushu derby.
Things didn’t start well, and it seemed like a few of the Avispa players hadn’t really realised that this was a derby match. The Nagasaki players certainly knew it was, and were bullying the Avispa midfield, forcing mistakes and putting pressure on from the start.
I haven’t watched enough of their games this season to know how they usually play, but on this evidence they are not going to be an enjoyable game for any team in the division, with #18 Sato and #14 Kono being particularly unpleasant. It is working for them this season, but it certainly isn’t going to make them a very popular team among neutrals.
While they were trying to over-power Avispa all over the pitch it was Mishima at right-back who they were especially targeting with many long balls into the left wing area. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more often as he is only 19 (an age when most Japanese managers would think he stills needs 2/3 years before he can play), and is in what is still a new position for him. I was worried at how he was being doubled-teamed, and a goal did come from his side after just 5 minutes.
The defence was a bit rattled and after Kamiyama had rushed out of his box to clear the resulting throw-in was popped out of a 50:50 up out towards the left wing byline. The Nagasaki attacker didn’t give up on it and ended up being able to attack the near post and slide a ball across for Sato to finish well.
Fortunately this woke Avispa up and they realised they needed to up their energy levels. The game became increasingly scrappy as a midfield battle started. From this midfield battle Avispa were getting balls to the edge of the box, but not really much further while Nagasaki were breaking quickly.
Avispa could have potentially gone down to 10 man from one of these breaks as a very neat piece of interplay between Sato and the #26 (Sai Kanakubo) resulted in Nakahara chopping down the #26 on the edge of the box. He could have been seen as the last defender, but the referee quickly gave out a yelow card and told Nagasaki to get on with it.
It was hard to see at times where an Avispa goal would come from, but then Kanakubo Jun caught a Nagasaki player in possession just outside the area and after trading passes with Ishizu released Jogo on the right to hit a first time shot past the keeper at the near post.
Ishizu and Jogo both rushed to get the ball and restart the game, and within 5 minutes Avispa were in the lead. Mishima showed why he can be so powerful as a runner from deep by dropping opening his body on the pass and running down the line to put a cross into the box with all out attacking players able to be central.
None of them managed to connect, but in the melee the ball bounced up and hit a Nagasaki defender’s arm for a penalty to be awarded. After missing his last one it looked like Sakata had been practicing as he converted this one very well.
Avispa now looked more in control, and were winning the physical battle. As part of this Tsutsumi was an absolute beast. A couple of times he just brushed players off the ball, and was getting his head to almost everything. Anything he didn’t get in the way of was being dealt with equally well by Park Gun in what is starting to look like a very promising central pairing.
Managing to slow the game down a bit and try to hold onto the ball it started to become obvious that this game was going to finish in the same way as a few others this season with a tired Avispa trying to hold off wave after wave of opposition attacks. Having been in this situation so many times before (most recently in conceding 2 last minutes goals against Verdy 2 weeks ago) you could feel the crowd get nervous.
Sakata came off for Nishida as Pusnik changed the formation a little to have the wide players a little deeper in midfield, then brought in Okada for Ishizu to try and start narrowing the game. Nagasaki were still trying to put pressure on Mishima with #14 and #18 seeming to take turns to pull at his shirt, say things in his ear, or give him a bit of a kick, but Mishima didn’t break. He has done very well at right-back so far, but this was the game where he became a real player.
Chris came on for Funayama to get a surprise debut, and after about 3 minutes then saw himself at left-back after Omata got injured. It wasn’t the debut he could have imagined, and it made the game even tenser as Omata refused to come off and was left limping badly around the pitch.
Nagasaki started putting in cross after cross to the back post, and managed to hit the bar with one of these, but Kamiyama was playing a really big game and somehow managed to get something behind everything they could throw at him.
There was time for one more controversy at the end when Nishida managed to break free and got fouled twice on the egde of the box. The first was a push and the referee played advantage, the second a trip in the box which the referee got scared to give as a second penalty and waved play-on.
It didn’t matter in the end as we managed to hold on and over-take our points tally for the whole of the 2012 season.
My Man of the Match – Yuta Mishima.
So many players did well in this game. Jogo got the official award, Kamiyama made many great blocks, Tsutsumi and Park were great at the back, but Mishima was the guy who Nagasaki seemed to have based their whole attacking game-plan on.
They thought they could break him and they couldn’t. In fact he got the key assist for the winning goal, and by the end of the match was still running the line and putting in big tackles on the 25-30 year old men who had been trying to bully him.