Jubilo Iwata 3 : 3 Avispa Fukuoka
There were a couple of surprises in the Avispa starting line-up as Oh Chang Hyon and Takeda came in to make their first starts of the season, with Takeda also making his debut for the club.
The inclusion of Takeda was one which I had hoped for as we were always going to need some more tenacity in midfield against an Iwata squad who have international quality all over the pitch and although aging, probably best squad in the division.
Oh Chang Hyon was a total surprise, but one I could understand as he is a little stronger in defence than Mishima, but didn’t really look up to speed for match fitness and wasn’t going to get much rest playing against a team like Iwata.
We conceded within the first 5 minutes with a goal which looked like it must be off-side. A cross came in from the right and picked out Yamazaki unmarked about 4m ahead of the defensive line who finished with his head easily.
The huge frustration of Japanese football coverage being that they won’t really show off-side decisions properly meant it is impossible to see if it was a valid goal, but watching the replay it seemed that if anyone was playing him on it was Oh who was a couple of seconds behind his team-mates; pretty unacceptable for a right-back to be behind his central pair.
Avispa were not playing well.
I know that we don’t have a great team, but I want us to at least force other teams to have to play and build attacks against us. If they are able to do so then we have to hold our hands up and say they were better, but in the first 20 minutes here we kept giving the ball away again and again in our own half.
Jubilo weren’t having to press or tackle to get the ball back and attack, we would just pass it to them. The worst offender in this regard was Tsutsumi who needs to get his passing and concentration sorted out.
This was the first game I’ve not watched at the stadium this season and was close to reaching for the TV remote control after 21 minutes when the referee again looked like he wanted to spoil the game.
A fairly innocuous looking cross came in again from the right which Maeda moved to go for but went shoulder-to shoulder with Lee and went down. Lee didn’t change his run, lift his arms, move towards the player, or anything else to warrant any sort of foul.
To be fair to Maeda he didn’t appeal for a penalty, but the referee made the bizarre decision to give one. It was one of the craziest decisions I’ve seen at a match in any country, perhaps only beaten by the late goal from JEF against us away last season.
Maeda and Matsui did rock-paper-scissors to see who would take it and Maeda scored. I have no idea what is going on at a club where players think that is an appropriate thing to be doing to choose who takes a penalty, especially a club who missed one and lost just 3 weeks earlier.
Having gone 2-0 down Avispa started playing. Takeda had been so far behind the pace of the game for the first 25 minutes, but slowly started to catch up and have a bigger impact on making the game a bit scrappier.
We won a corenr from a decent shot by Mishima and Lee showed that he is going to be a threat from them this season with a well-taken glancing header across goal to pull one goal back.
We were doing a little better, but it was quite clear that things needed to be changed up at half-time and Pusnik wasn’t scared to do so. I’m usually dead against half-time substitutions, and definitely double substitutions, but a gaol down and with quality goal-scorers on the bench it was the right thing to do here.
I don’t really know what to make of Park. Against Kyoto he was a rock and looked like our most important player for this season. In the last 2 games he just hasn’t been doing what is needed of him, and Takeda was correct to stay on having developed into the game after a poor first 25 minutes.
He continued to get better in the 2nd half and hit his second long range effort which was tipped over well by the keeper. On his ability to break from his defensive position and shoot alone he has done enough to play next game in my opinion.
Ishizu and Hirai were looking more threatening going forward than what we had had in the first half and linked up well for an equalising goal.
Takeda passed forward to Hirai who headed down to Jogo and continued his run to be picked out in the right wing position with a retun ball. Crossing into Ishizu on the edge of the box he still had a lot to do but got past his defender and slid the ball under the keeper to score.
Avispa were now on top and Iwata were worried into a set of quick substitutions. They could have then been down to 10 men after an awful tackle by Ferdinando. Coming in late on Abe he put his foot over the ball and just below Abe’s knee. He stayed down for a while, but was lucky to not get really badly injured. I was waiting to see if it would be yellow or maybe red for the Brazilian, but the terrible referee didn’t even give a foul.
He did at leat get one decision right when a loose ball put a Jubilo player running free at goal but Lee made up for ‘giving away’ the earlier penalty by putting in a good saving tackle which the stadium called for another penalty but on the replay could clearly be seen to have got the ball.
Avispa were on top but then gave the ball away again as Takeda played a ball to no-one and allowed Jubilo to run on goal with the defence out of position. They still had work to do and as Yamada put a cross in from the right he somehow managed to pick out the 170cm substitute striker with our 2 centre-backs each side of him not even challenging for the ball.
Maeda was bleeding from somewhere by this point, but the referee continued his total lack of knowledge of the rules of the game by allowing him to stay on the pitch with blood running down the back of his shirt. It certainly seemed to be a referee who was in awe of being on the pitch with a player at one-time the best striker in the J-League.
At that point I expected Avispa to crumble. They did well to come back from 2-0 down but to then go behind again with 7 minutes to play would be psychologically tough.
The Avispa team this year look a little stronger mentally however and did come back to take a share of the points.
Again it was a goal of redemption as the player who gave away the third stepped up to score from a free-kick. Having been brought down on the edge of the area Hirai shaped to take a free-kick which was probably ‘too close’ to score from.
In fact just a bluff Takeda came in to shoot low under a wall he has guessed were going to jump. It was a clever goal from a player who seems to be quite intelligent on the pitch. If he can use that intelligence in the anchor position which needs someone who understands the game then he could take over from Park in the position I still think is the key for us this season.