Ehime FC 2 : 2 Avispa Fukuoka
Forget about everything going on off the pitch, on the evidence of this game we have more to worry about with the playing staff than whether we are going to get new investment, or if any potential new sponsors have just walked away.
Here was a game where we were facing 10 men for over 75 minutes after the referee had sent off Ehime’s Brazilian defender Alair for a foul on Mishima in the box. I thought it was a very harsh decision, but we have been on the receiving end of a lot this season so should be happy when they go our way.
Sakata missed the resulting penalty with a very weak shot, but it really shouldn’t have mattered. We had 4 strikers on the pitch and were facing a pretty bad Ehime team.
The game did start to resemble a training session after the sending off as Ehime defended in numbers and Avispa struggled to break down their defence. I was thinking that it could be exactly what our strikers needed in terms of being able to build attacks with little threat at the other end, and we got our goal with a well worked move from a throw-in.
Tsutsumi picked out a screen from Sakata from the throw who passed back to Mishima who rolled a ball across the edge of the box. Ishizu hit it from the D as he has so many times this season and took his total for the season to an impressive 11.
Ehime looked to change the game just before half-time as they brought on 190cm young striker Ryota Watanabe and went far more direct.
Avispa still had the better chance to score in the second half as Omata hit the post from a free-kick having come on for the injured Koga. Koga looked to have over-stretched his achilles after having the tall Watanabe fall on it, and may well have now played his last game.
Ehime did have a really good change to equalise as the tall Watanabe became more influential and one of their midfielders missed an open goal from the edge of the box after his initial shot was saved by the returning Mizutani.
While Watanabe was causing real problems to our defence by winning everything in the air Punosevac again showed that despite his height he really is quite ineffective in the air. I was glad in a way; if he had scored a hattrick against 10 man Ehime it may have painted a picture that he could be the answer to all our problems next year, where the reality is that he has slightly less effective than Ramazzotti. His cause wasn’t being helped by not getting any service, Ishizu in particular looks like he will try to do anything apart from pass to him.
Avispa then looked to have made the game safe as a ball bounced into Kanamori in the box who after initially looking to have lost it as he went down, got up, spun on the ball and finished to make it 2-0.
2-0 againt 10 men you’d think it was more likely that a team would win 5-0 than end up drawing, but Avispa have made snatching a draw from the jaws of victory something of a speciality.
Ehime’s keeper made a good save from Mishima and launched a long ball up field to Watanabe. Showing ultimate route-1 football he ran through Park and scored 1-on-1 with Mizutani. It looked sure to be a foul, but after the earlier sending off it was obvious the referee was going to try to even things up at some point.
Avispa then showed their characteristic mental fragility as they somehow managed to concede an equaliser. Watanabe was again in the middle of it as a free-kick from deep was headed back across goal by him and headed home unchallenged by Ishii.
At 2-2 I didn’t think we could score, but did have one more chance after Ehime had gone down to 9 men after Ishii fouled Ishizu when running from half-way.
The otherwise quite impressive Mishima got the ball at the back post after Nishida had caused a nuisance in the middle of the box, but tried to take too many touches and allowed the keeper to close the angle and save a point for Ehime.
A win would have been more than Avispa deserved after letting a 10 man team score 2 goals, and then fail to score against 9-men, and will hopefully just remind the staff at the club that they can’t just try to paint over cracks with the current players but instead need to make wholescale changes.