Avispa 1 : 0 JEF United
Sometimes adversity can breed resolve, and so it seems with the current Avispa team who came off the back of nearly beating Saporro away with a makeshift team, to getting an excellent home win against JEF; again with many of their 1st team absent.
I am not an afficionado of 3xx formations, it isn’t really something you see in England, but we have been using it in away matches quite effectively recently and I was pleased to see it for the first time in a home match.
Kazuki did well against Sapporo, but must have had nightmares after the last time he faced Kempes, and I was pleased to see him back on the bench with Tsutsumi restored to the middle.
It could have been easy to move Park back into defence, but his height and tackling in midfield helps those around him to play and i was pleased to see him stay there.
Earlier in the season I had written that the anchor role is the most important position for us this season, and after excelling against Kyoto that Park had made it his own. He then had a couple of fairly timid displays, but needs time to gain confidence in what is a new position and will make mistakes at times.
I am always surprised that it is his play with the ball which is the most impressive, very rarely giving away possession, and his tackling which is a little inconsistent.
Tsutsumi moving inside also meant Mishima returned at right-back, in a wing back position which suits him well. The spell out of the team did him some good and he came back full of running, albeit running which still lacked the final delivery.
On the other flank Abe was even better. Dropped for Mitsunaga in the last game he ran the whole match and showed that he is willing to fight for his position.
The game was quite scrappy, but we were looking much stronger defensively as Lee got his head to every ball hit long towards Kempes’s, Koga was working well as a simple stopper, and Tsutsumi was sticking to his task well.
It looked like we might be facing 10 men after 25 minutes as Kempes reacted badly to Koga trying to kick a ball which was underneath him. First kicking back at Koga, then trying to head-butt him, and finally (probably assuming he was already sent off) putting his hands in Lee’s face.
Somehow the referee only gave him a yellow card and adds more questionable decisions to the long list which Avispa have this season.
The referee wasn’t too bad, and wasn’t affecting the flow of the game, but did make 2-3 baffling decisions at key times.
Kanamori was looking lively up front, another player who has benefitted from a bit of a break.
Alongside him Sakai was working hard, without ever really threatening much, and Ishizu was trying to dribble a lot.
I’m guessing that after Koga our highest paid players are Jogo and Sakata. You would think that with them missing (along with Punosevac) we would suffer, but in fact the opposite has been true.
We had a group of players working hard, putting in an honest performance and making JEF work for everything. Jogo in particular can be something of a luxury in these J2 battles, and is a player I’ve wondered where he fits in for a long time. The games from the last 2 weeks have shown that 11 players working hard can be better than 10 players and a star.
Avispa rode their luck a little bit as JEF hit the angle of post and bar with a shot from the back of the box after a corner, but then took the lead just before half-time.
Abe won possession and cleverly took out 2 players with a shimmy in an in field position and rolled the ball out to Tsutsumi who with the freedom of the 3xx formation had been able to fill his left-back position.
Hitting a cross first time he showed the benefit of someone who can cross a ball as he picked out Kanamori near the back post. Kanamori still had a lot to do, and finished very smartly with a header going back across goal.
Avispa looked to keep things tight in the second half with a similar game-plan to the first.
Hirai came on for Sakai, and Ushinohama for Kanamori to add more energy as the forwards tired.
Both substitutes came close to providing an assist for a 2nd goal as Hirai hit the by-line and crossed to the near post, and Ushinohama slipped Ishizu through with a smart reverse pass.
Ushinohama is a player who never lets the team down when given a chance and again today was full of running and really helped us hold on for the win.
Kamiyama was playing a part in goal where decent positioning and safe hands saw him make a couple of regulation catches. He wasn’t called upon to make any outstanding saves, but did everything asked of him well.
After playing well Koga seemed to pick up a bit of an injury, and then found himself collecting the ball as the last defender and tried to pass back to Kamiyama.
Horribly under-hitting his pass he had to foul the JEF attacker and got sent off. It was the correct decision, and it looked like Avispa might face further heart-ache.
JEF attacked in waves, and Avispa were again giving possession away too easily.
Morimoto had the ball in the back of the net after being played through on goal, but was judged off-side. I’ve not seen it in detail again, but it looked a very close decision to me.
Avispa had to try and hold on, and managed to do so with a brave defenisve display from 10 men. The highlight of which was a run from Ushinohama which I would have liked to see him try to run the length of the pitch after beating 2-3 challenges.
A good performance from Avispa, with particularly good displays by Nakahara, Lee, Tsutsumi, Park and Abe.