I’m very late writing a report on this one, but have been very busy with various things.
Heading up to Yamaga isn’t an easy trip, there is a reason they are 3rd in the table just goal difference behind automatic promotion, they have players and a style of playing almost ideally suited to getting out of second division football.
Having said that under Pusnik we are getting closer towards that target, and should have come back home with at least a draw, and could easily have had a massive away win.
The team was almost unchanged from our recent run of good form, with the only notable change being Mishima coming back in and Jogo moving further forward.
It isn’t a change which I like. I think that at right-back Jogo is forced to play for the team and get involved (he is a quality player and should be a big player for us), when he moves higher up the pitch it allows him to drift out of the game at times and become the sort of luxury player which exists in top divisions but not the scrap and tussle of 2nd tier football.
The game was fairly disjointed at the start as both clubs looked to stay solid at the back and break forward when they could.
Avispa took the lead from another free-kick straight from the training ground. If anyone is under any illusions about how much work Pusnik has done for the club they should go back through our games this year and see how many have been scored through set pieces and fast counters. These are goals we never used to score (just relying on individual skill), and would be somewhere close to Tokyo Verdy at the bottom of the table if we hadn’t had them this year.
This free-kick was our short pass round the wall to Tsutsumi who possesses a touch belying a central defender and finished well in a crowded box after 35 minutes.
We needed to hold on until half-time to get a quick re-organisation, but just as it looked like we could withstand the Yamaga attacks we conceded.
A cross from the left was flicked towards goal by Savio’s head and parried by Kamiyama back into the danger zone for right-back Tanaka to cooly finish.
Japanese commentators are awful. This was an example of that as the TV commentator lauded Kamiyama’s first ‘save’. This was a flicked header with no pace which Kamiyama reached with both hands, and not at full extension of his body. He should be catching this ball easily, or at the least punching it outside the box. It looked a lot like a diving save for the cameras, and cost us a goal. Rather than pointing this out the commentators fell for the dive and exclaimed ‘Subarashii Save!!’. Garbage.
Coming into the 2nd half I was glad to see Jogo go back to right-back where we immediately started to look more balanced.
Again the commentators showed their lack of understanding of the game by saying Jogo should be playing higher up the pitch; it is like a commentary by numbers rather than according to what is going on on the pitch.
Both teams looked equally likely to score.
Avispa had the clearest chance as Ishizu broke free in the box but saw his shot saved by the keeper as he moved in on goal with a 1-on-1 from the right.
Hirai came on, and should have seen this as an ideal chance to show his ability to change a game and win the points, but was again fairly ineffective. He had 1 half-decent chance but couldn’t show he deserves his money.
As Avispa pushed for their goal they lost possession in midfield and Yamaga quickly passed forward to a striker played onside by Tsutsumi who was furthest back.
Kamiyama made a decent parry for the initial shot, but again sent the ball straight back into the danger zone where it was finished unchallenged by a forward in the box.
Avispa pushed forwward for a deserved equaliser, but the Yamaga keeper was having the best performance of his life, pulling off save after save as Lee Kwang Seon went forward as a desperation striker.
We lost, it broke our winning streak, but securing a play-off position isn’t going to be decided on away days at Yamaga.
We play Okayama at home this weekend, a win there and we are straight back into the play-off picture, few clubs are going to go to Yamaga and do better than we did here.