Fagiano Okayama 1 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
This wasn’t quite the result or performance to help the team get over what has been a terrible couple of weeks, but it was at least a step in the right direction with a much better level of performance and attitude to the game.
We started with a 343 formation which I have been thinking for a while it is worth us trying with the players we have at the club.
I don’t like to see the team/formation change much, especially with a group of players as limited as we have, but after the recent run of defeats it was worth changing something here.
It meant a return to the first XI for Koga, which worried me a little as we tend to play quite a high line and need defenders who can step out, but he did quite well in this game.
I’d still prefer to see Park in the position long term, but beyond that we looked a better shape than we have.
It helped that Kamiyama returned to the team who the defence clearly have greater trust in, and has a much better level of communication. He will always make 3-4 mistakes in a season, but he will also make saves that few keepers in the division can due to his size.
Abe is a more natural wing-back than he is full-back, and in the absence of Mishima through suspension we had Jogo on the other side. It isn’t a position which I think Jogo enjoys, but I’ve said several times previously I think it might be his best position as he is forced to get involved in the game.
something he does need to be aware of is to make sure to get forward from this position, confident in the knowledge he has 3 central defenders, and a central 2 of Takeda and Nakahara who can cover at times.
We were getting the ball around the edges of the box, and were controlling possession to the extent that Okayama were having trouble getting the ball to their forwards let along get a shot on goal.
Unfortunately as with previous game the opposition were defending deep and against a packed penalty box we couldn’t get any balls slipped through to the forwards.
It meant that the main person striking at goal was Nakahara, who hit a couple on target, but generally looked more NASAhara. Long shots from the D are something we need to help break down a packed defence like this, Nakahara would be ideal for it but needs to work on his composure.
The only other avenue for an Avispa goal looked like from a set piece where long throws and corners were being put into the box and looking a little more dangerous than they have in the last few seasons.
This is another area where 3 at the back can help as one of the taller defenders can stay up until play has ended.
We looked like the only team in it but then (yet again) the referee made a decision which hurt us. Takeda had tracked back and put a good tackle in on the edge of the box, but the referee blew for a foul.
The fouled player Ueda stood up and lifted a half decent cross into the box where an Okayama player could head home unchallenged.
I have no idea how it got to him in so much space with 3 central defenders all over 185cm and a big keeper. It looked like they may have been trying zone defence, whatever it was it was terrible defending and we were a goal down against the run of play.
Avispa went quiet for a bit, but came out in the second half looking to get forward again. Jogo in particular had been told to get forward more often.
Jogo should have scored after Ishizu burst through on the left to hit a cross-shot across goal which hit the far post. Rebounding to Jogo it came off his knee from a metre out, could have gone anywhere but somehow went over the bar.
It was promising to see Jogo in that position, and he needs to see that even though the team sheet might say he is a right-back it actually allows him to get forward unchallenged if he drifts inside the full-back.
We continued to get corners which were almost exclusively being aimed at Lee’s head. He hit one over which should have been better, and then hit another onto the near post and it looked like it might not be Avispa’s day.
Sakai was trying to be busy up front but his first touch at times was terrible. He came off with Hirai, Morimura and Punosevac coming on.
Hirai was totally anonymous, Morimura ran about a bit and actually hit the bar with a cross, and Puni looked better than he has when starting.
With 10 minutes left we got an equaliser, and it was very similar to the goal we should have scored 15 minutes before.
Puni chested a ball down which arrived at Ishizu who passed over the top to the far post. Jogo had got forward from wing-back position and made no mistake this time as he powered the ball home.
There were a couple more half-chances, and time for the referee to spoil what had otherwise been a half decent performance (apart from the award of a free-kick for the Okayama goal) by failing to give a free-kick for Sakata after he was literally dragged down for about 8 seconds right in front of the Avispa box.
A win would have been great, but an away draw is better than what we’ve had recently and personally I’d stick with the formation for a few games and let the players ride out on a slightly more positive frame of mind.