Mito Hollyhock 0 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka
This game had the look and feel of one being played in the middle of summer after only 2 days rest, and with another game coming up in another 3 days.
Both teams rested a few players, and with Omata getting injured in the last game Avispa in particular looked a totally different team to the one which played on Saturday; both in terms of players and formation.
I had said at the start of the season that I’d like to see us have a 3xx formation as something which we could use as and when it might be useful, and yesterday’s game saw Kazuki come into the team alongside Tsutsumi and Park, with Kim Min Je and Miyamoto playing as wing-backs. Nishida started up front to give Sakata a rest and Mishima continued to show Pusnik’s faith in his versatility by playing as a trequartista in front of Okada and Jogo.
Avispa looked like a team working out a new formation, and weren’t helped by a bit of a cabbage patch of a pitch, and Mito weren’t faring much better in putting 2-3 passes together without their figure-head of Suzuki to aim for. Namba was his usual bustling self in attack for Mito, but without enough real quality to trouble the Avispa back 3.
Pusnik had to change things quicker than he would have liked as Nishida went down when challenging for a cross at a set-piece. It was hard to see how he had got injured, but he went down holding his neck in what looked a fairly worrying injury and makes the release of Osmar look a little less well-advised unless we have someone else lined up.
Sakata came on in place of Nishida, and the team was further strengthened by Kanakubo and Funayama coming on in the second half, but it didn’t really improve the attacking fluidity of Avispa.
I thought Min Je was doing well in a first game as wing-back and was offering himself in good positions going forward without ever being caught out at the back. He has become something of a forgotten man this season, and showed he is still a willing runner doing much better than Miyamoto who was substituted with Mishima moving to right-back.
Mito looked the more likely to score, but only via a set-piece. They seemed to recognise this and collected many free-kicks from wing areas outside the box to curl crosses in from. Some of these free-kicks were totally valid, some seemed to be bought by a team who fancied their chances against a defence which would concede at least one goal a game from set-pieces last season.
We are a different proposition this year and Kamiyama and Kazuki got something in the way of most things. When a Mito player did get to the ball Avispa had the post to thank as a bullet header smashed against it.
The game fizzled out, and I think both managers probably would have taken a 0 : 0 result before the game, although Pusnik would certainly have hoped to have not picked up the injury to Nishida and a few yellow cards.
Man of the Match – Kazuki Yamaguchi
Avispa’s best 2 players were 2 who had been given a chance in the first team; Kazuki and Min Je. If Avispa had scored I think it would have come from a left wing cross from Min Je, but they didn’t so I’ll give it to Kazuki for helping to keep the clean sheet.