Ehime FC 0 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka
An optimistic way to look at this result is that if we draw every away game and win every home game from now until the end of the season then we will get promotion to J1 (or at worst lose on penalties in the play-off final).
A pessimistic way to look at it is that Ehime really weren’t very good, and it is teams like this which we should be beating quite easily to give us opportunities to lose or draw at home against the top teams.
There was one enforced change for Avispa as midfield terrier Takeda was suspended which saw Sakata drop back into midfield (realistically who else could we play there?) and Hirai get the chance to prove himself as a starting member. I’ve been quite critical of him this season, but would be very happy to be proved wrong from now until the end of the season if he could score over 10 goals, but on this evidence of this match he isn’t going to.
Avispa were the better team for the first 65 minutes, and it just looked like a matter of time before we would score a goal, and that could then lead to 2-3 more.
Jogo and Abe at wing-back were getting forward more consistently than they have done in recent games (although I’d still like to see them do it more, we still have 3 at the back even if they get caught out), and were getting balls into an area around the edge of the box.
Unfortunately we then seemed to struggle to break down an Ehime defence which were sitting deep and maintaining their shape.
The Avispa forwards were making attacks over-complicated, and trying to play intricate passing moves o the edge of the box when we just need to test the keeper sometimes. Avispa fans know as well as anyone that keepers in J2 can be very inconsistent and I feel we need to have someone able to shoot on sight and get shots on target from outside the box. At the moment it generally falls to Nakahara to take long shots, but they are often in more dnager of going out for a throw-in than getting on target.
Ishizu is the other player who can shoot from distance well, but he tends to like to take players on more than he should and wait to get the ball exactly where he wants it before shooting.
Having said that it took the help of the cross-bar to keep the scores level as a short throw-in was delivered into the box where Kwang Seon got a clean header which beat the keeper but hit the underside of the bar. Park did well to pressure the second ball, but Sakata’s shot was parried by the recovering keeper and hit the bar for a second time.
Going into the second half we brought on attacking players to try and find some way through the Ehime defence, but couldn’t get the goal.
The best chance of the half fell to Hirai as he was slipped through the middle by a ball from Ishizu, but he showed how low he is in confidence by snapping at his shot and lifting the ball over the bar from 8 yards.
We were also up against another keeper having a good game as the Ehime keeper made another good save from a free-kick sent in from the left which headed towards goal off the head of one of the Ehime defenders.
Ehime looked to be relying on their big striker Watanabe to cause problems in defence; not a bad tactic seeing as he has destroyed us in the last 3 games we have played against them, but generally he was being marshalled much better and getting few chances to try and bully our defenders.
The game then changed as Kwang Seon picked up his second yellow card having been turned and out-paced heading back at goal. He pulled the attacked back and picked up an obvious second yellow card to put us down to 10 men for the second game in a row.
This then put emphasis on Ehime to try and attack and the game opened up much more. Avispa kept trying to attack, and were lucky to avoid conceding a goal late on as a break with 5-6 players came up against 3 back for Avispa. Fortunately the end of the move culminated in the ball falling at Min Je’s feet, and as much as I think he is a decent player composure and shooting have never been in his skillset and he blasted wide.
An away draw with 10 men is something a manager has to take, but it was still a result which felt disappointing after looking sure to score and ride out an away win during the first half.