Roasso Kumamoto 2 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
I’d said before the match that an away draw would be a decent result in a local derby, first day of the season, but we really should have beaten Kumamoto. To lose against them is a pretty terrible start to the season.
As unhappy as I am to lose against one of our local rivals things could be worse. I might be supporting Roasso and have to watch their agricultural brand of football, in their wind-farm of a stadium, 100m from the pitch, with the most obnoxious bunch of cheating players I’ve seen in a long time.
I’d previously thought that Tochigi were on a mission to be the most hated team in the J-League, on today’s evidence Kumamoto are hoping to give them some competition. It seems odd that a team who aren’t going to be relegated, or promoted, would turn to such a negative form of football (which is essence is supposed to be entertaining) but I guess it is a results game.
They got the result in this game, but seem to have a strategy which relies entirely on the opposition making a mistake. Most teams in this division will be able to play simple stuff and avoid that, but Avispa were much more accommodating.
There was a sense of anticipation at kick-off but within the first 10 minutes Avispa looked rattled. It seemed the players were quite shocked that Roasso weren’t going to let them walk through the defence and score a couple of goals. Without question I’d say we have better quality players than Roasso, but it seemed like the Avispa players thought that too, and that the Roasso players would politely let them pass the ball around.
For about 20 minutes the ball hardly touched the floor as it got headed around the pitch. Avispa wanted to play some football, but were nearly always second best to the ball in both halves of the pitch, and weren’t being helped by a strong swirling wind.
The wind was a big factor at the start, and we should have adjusted our plans accordingly. I fully believe in trying to switch the play and have Nakahara playing his raking diagonal passes across the pitch at Level-5, but given the circumstances today most passes were ending up going 20m either side of where they were intended.
As expected the formation included most of the ‘big-hitters’, and new players (the notable exception being Ishizu). This is a decision which I fully agree with. It didn’t work out today, but one of these players may have come in and hit the ground running, in which case today would have been a very different story.
As it was we had about 5 forwards on the pitch, and every one of them looked like someone who was used to being given the ball by ‘water-carriers’ behind them, and weren’t really equipped to get the ball themselves.
I expect that the next game will look a little differently, but no-one can now complain as to not having been given a chance. I’ve said previously that I think we need Park in midfield, and he put in a couple of huge tackles early on today, and I think the huge space in the middle of the pitch just reinforces that we need a ball-winner in the middle.
Playing alongside Nakahara today was Morimura, who ran a lot and tried to get the ball but made mistake upon mistake seeming to need too much time on the ball and making bad decisions. We have a big space in the middle of the pitch and it would be great if he can start to quickly find his rhythm.
Jogo was the one player who seemed able to get the ball on the floor and put it into space, with Nakahara alongside him being a bit hit and miss.
Having said all that we weren’t giving up many chances to a Kumamoto team who I was expecting to be better, but looked pretty awful. Unfortunately we then gave them a chance.
Nakahara ballooned a pass strangely, and the Kumamoto central defender out-paced Punosevac to get forward and hot a shot at goal. I had a good angle to see the shot, and looked to me like he kicked the floor and scuffed his shot embarrassingly wide. The referee thought it was a foul and gave a free-kick outside the box which they scored from via a big deflection off Tsutsumi’s back.
Getting the free-kick was fortuitous, but putting in a shot from distance wasn’t. It was so windy it needed shots on target which anything could happen from, and in this case ended with a goal.
Ishizu came on for Morimura at half-time and immediately made our best chance of the game with a run across the by-line. He certainly looks to be playing more for the team so far this season, but did still at times try to do too much.
We looked the far better team, but then gave away a second goal.
After winning a corner Mishima came short. With the ball cleared by the defence it fell to the edge of the box where absolutely no-one challenged for it. I don’t know if that was Mishima’s position (he usually sits deep for corners), but it is amateur level defending to have no-one on the dge of the box to at least foul the guy before he can counter.
Kumamoto ran the length of the pitch, but it still took a ballooned, odd shot over Kamiyama to score and take a 2-0 lead through 2 chances which had been given to Kumamoto by Avispa.
The Avispa team did at least fight to avoid it getting more embarrassing and did get a goal back through Sakata hitting a shot which bounced around a few defenders before ending up sneaking inside the post.
Avispa pushed and pushed for an equaliser and had a goal disallowed for off-side by Punosevac at the far post, a Tsutsumis shot handled off the line after a corner, and Ishizu hit the underside of the bar with a shot from the penalty spot.
At this point the game was basically Avispa attacking, and Kumamoto trying to con the referee every time the ball came to them to try and waste a bit of time. The only thing they did beyond this was for one of the players to launch himself into an over-the-ball challenge on Kanamori (possibly Mishima) and get away without even a yellow-card.
The referee was certainly having a bad day by the end of the match, and I hope that this season doesn’t end up again with so many games influenced by the referee.
In the end the whistle went and Roasso can take their points. I hope that I wouldn’t be happy to take the points like that each week if I was a Kumamoto fan. Avispa were terrible in the first half, and gave goal-scoring chances to the opposition rather than make them work for them, but had at least shown a little bit of heart by the end of the match.