JEF United 3 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka
Before this match started you could say that somehow it still looked like AVispa had a chance of reaching the play-offs. After losing home matches to Mito and Tokyo Verdy I’m not sure how that was the case, but only 4 points behind 6th (we’d have been 2 points clear of the pack had we won our 2 home games against bottom half opposition in September) and with Kyoto having lost earlier in the day we still had a very real chance.
That chance has now gone after a defeat to a JEF team also chasing a play-off place, who now look like the most likely to displace one of the teams in the top 6 (Montedio also lost today).
Our play-off place wasn’t lost today, in fact the team didn’t play too badly for large parts of the game, and in the 1st half in particular looked like they had a chance to sneak an away victory which would have put us in 7th.
Kanamori returned to the team, and was the pick of our attackers as he tried to dribble through defenders, but we still looked to be missing a cutting edge in attack.
Sakai has scored goals this season, and if he is willing to play on a sensible contract I think it suits everyone for him to stay at Avispa next season, but his first touch, link-up play and decision making still really needs improving. I can’t see any position for him on the pitch but striker, but it still doesn’t seem quite right.
The time has now come to start thinking about which players should be kept at the club next season, not just for Sakai, and as has been the case for large parts of this season Nakahara was the pick of our midfield. He plays like a Spanish midfielder, which needs to be appreciated for his ball retention more than his dynamism, but also requires players alongside him.
Jogo was playing in the middle for this game, and remains a puzzle without an established answer as he failed to make enough of an impact for a player we look to as one of our most experienced (and I assume, better paid) players.
Takeda has been another stand out player this season, but his game does rely a lot on tenacity and after picking up a booking towards the end of the first half he had to stand off a little more going into the second.
JEF were squandering good chances throughout with some wayward shooting, particularly from one time wonderkid Morimoto who reallly seems to have failed to live up to expectations. He did show what he was capable of to take the lead as he took a touch to cut inside Park Gun in the box and shoot inside the post with his second touch.
Avispa lost it a little bit as they saw their season evaporate and had conceded a second within 2 minutes as a ball was played over the top to a player in space on the left side of the box. JEF’s #7 was celebrating before the attacker had even taken a shot and sure enough he finished well to seal the victory.
Avispa were finished for 2014. I can’t even remember the 3rd goal, I was half asleep thinking about which player I’d like most to turn up at the club in December, a commanding centre-back, a dynamic midfielder or a target man striker who can jump.
I couldn’t decide in the end, we need all three.