Avispa Fukuoka 0 – 1 Mito Hollyhock
One of the particular annoyances about Avispa this season is that they seem to be able to play well and get results against some of the top teams, but then follow it up with defeats or draws against teams they should be getting results against quite easily.
It would be easy to say that they become complacent against ‘lesser’ teams, but I don’t think that is the case. They were playing at a very high level of intensity in this game, and pressing high up the pitch as a team well throughout the first half.
I thought Park Gun and Takdea were the stand-out players of this time as the stepped up to close gaps and win back possession, before driving forward with the ball.
The ball was reaching Nakahara at the base of our midfield who was trying to spread play, while himself also putting in tackles and trying to get close to Mito players.
The prblem for Avispa was that with Sakata out injured, Punosevac and Ishizu both having left the club, Kanamori away on international duty and Hirai seemingly unable to play at the levl expected of his we didn’t possess the cutting edge to score past a well organised Mito defence.
This is what I see as our real problem against these teams which we might be expected to beat.
When we come up against teams which are well-organised in defence, playing with 8 behind the ball when out of possession and perhaps happy to get themselves an away point (or at the least focussing on a counter-attacking strategy) then we don’t have the creativity to break down that solid defence.
The team starts to get a little desperate knowing that they are expected to win and start to leave gaps at the back, which as with this game can then be exploited.
We did control possession in the first half, and by 30 minutes we had had about 6 shots on target, as Mito had failed to have a single shot, but I wouldn’t say we ever really looked confident to score.
At times our forward line showed a massive lack of confidence, with Jogo in particular not trusting himself to out-pace defence when running in on goal. If I think back to games like against JEF in 2010 when he would run onto balls and out-pace, but also out-muscle defenders before rifling a shot into the top corner he more often now looks to play through someone else than take a shot on goal.
The other issue being that our long shooting is fairly hopeless. With teams sitting back you can cause problems by putting the ball into the corners from beyond the defence, but Avispa shots were sailing high and wide of goal from players who had time and space on the edge of the box.
Nakahara is really growing as a professional footballer this year, but his long shooting is quite embarrassing at times.
Something I could say is that if we were playing this game with Ishizu on the pitch then we would have had a very good chance of making the game safe before half-time. Either from his running on the break without thinking to stop and pass to someone else, or shooting from outside the box I think we could have got a goal from somewhere.
It makes the decision to allow him to go on loan to Kobe all the more bizarre. A win here would have put us in 6th. How much did Kobe pay us for the loan to not make that a crazy decision?
A new player was brought in to potentially replace Ishizu, but if that has been seen as a good like-for-like replacement someone has got things wrong. On loan striker Atomu Nabeta came on for 30 minutes and didn’t really look like someone who is going to cause many problems for defences in J2. In fact when Ushinohama came on he looked more of a threat.
Avispa looked like they just needed to keep doing what they were doing in the 2nd half and a goal would come.
It very nearly did come as Park stepped up from defence to start a move, continuing his run to collect a return pass from Abe on the left. Placed well he put his shot from the edge of the box wide, and clearly thought he should have done better to score his first goal for the club.
It looked a little bit like the defence switched off a bit having come so close to scoring and 1m95 Lee Kwang Seon was out jumped by 1m70 Mishima to flick the ball straight through the middle from a goal kick.
Falling right between out central pair the Mito striker could run free on goal and score easily in a 1-on-1 with Kamiyama.
Avispa had been caught by a sucker-punch, as they have a few times when faced with similar teams this season.
Avispa toiled to score, but didn’t really come close to breaking down the Mito defence.
There was time for the referee to show a yellow card to Lee Kwang Seon, and Osmar before the end of the game.
The card shown to Kwang Seon was bad, he was being fouled for about 10 seconds and then ewhen the guy fouling him fell over he was shown a yellow card.
It paled into insignificance when compared with the crazy card shown 10 minutes later to Osamar. Running back with the ball after being cauight off-side he threw the ball to Kamiyama after Kamiyama shouted for him to throw the ball to him and the referee booked him, presumably for time-wastng.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that out of 3 foreign players on the pitch this referyellow carded 2 of them without any caution for a Japanese player.