V-Varen Nagasaki 0 – 0 Avispa Fukuoka
I’d said before the game that I thought a single goal would get the victory here with both teams keeping things quite tight and so it proved.
The goal didn’t come for either team, but I suspect that Avispa are probably happier with the away point than Nagasaki.
I’d said after the Ehime game that away draws are all that we need to be guaranteed a promotion so long as we win our games at home, and to secure the draw in a Kyushu derby (of which we had lost every on prior to this) is a positive result.
Avispa seemed to line-up with a formation which looked more like they wouldn’t lose than they were going to win, with Park playing an anchor role in midfield alongside Nakahara with Jogo and Sakata in front of him as Sakai served as a target man up front.
It was keeping Nagasaki quiet, but they did have a chance to score which should have given them the lead as a ball was played between central defenders to leave an attacker one-on-one with Kamiyama with time to pick his spot.
The stats last season apparently showed that Kamiyama was the best keeper in J2, and I’m sure they show something similar this season as he pulled out another excellent save by making himself big and getting a hand to the shot to his right. It shows how statistics can be misleading because while he does make these excellent saves on a regular basis, nobody is keeping stats on blunders and missed crosses.
In a half of few chances the next big chance fell to Sakata played through on the right of the box with a ball diagonally over the top. After scoring and playing very well against Jubilo I’d hoped he would now start scoring for fun, but his initial shot was well parried by the keeper, and his follow up shot from a tight angle hit the post when he probably would have hoped to do better.
With 30 minutes to play it looked like the game would swing in Avispa’s direction.
I’ve heard it said that leagues are won by the quality of what is sitting on the bench, and Avispa have what should be game winning players available to come on against tired legs with Hirai and Kanamori.
This game was designed for the substitutes to be the heros, but too often in Japan (maybe in football in general) the substitutes don’t see that actually they are the game winning players, and don’t perform quite as they should when they do finally come on.
Tired defenders don’t want to come up against pace, they don’t want strikers hitting the box and tempting fouls, and will quickly ask forwards to drop back and try to help. After a very good start to the season Hirai hasn’t really done this, and Kanamori is still young enough to be very inconsistent with his game.
Another player who has shown inconsistency is Mishima, but in the last game and this he has started to show what he is able to do. Despite working hard all game he really started to try and get forward in the last 20 minutes of this game, even though we had switched to 4 at the back at times, and was able to try and put crosses into the box.
The best chance of the half came from one of these crosses as Takeda hit an air-shot, and Kanamori couldn’t quite reach the ball when placed centrally with a dangerous cross put across goal for them.
The game had lots of positives to it, as long as we keep a clean sheet we always have the forwards who are able to try and make a goal.
Next game is home against Gifu and one which we should be looking to win.