November 19, 2017
Tokushima Vortis will not play the play-off for the promotion to Japan League 1 after a tragic final matchday, written by the worst possible enemy. Tokushima Vortis, with two minutes to go in the match against Tokyo Verdy, was a play-off team, securing the fifth place with a 1-1 draw. But in football, everything changes from one moment to another. For good and for bad, as it happened to Ricardo Rodríguez’s team. Uchida scored the winning goal for Tokyo Verdy, led by Spanish coach Lotina, in the 88th minute of the match. A defeat that Tokushima Vortis never deserved. However, the play-off options were still very much alive with the home defeat of Matsumoto (0-2) and the draw of JEF United, coached by Juan Eduardo Esnaider. Yet, in the last moment the big blow came. JEF United made the 2-1 through Kondo in the 91st minute of their game. A goal that definitively destroyed all the play-off options of the players led by Ricardo Rodríguez, who fell to the seventh place in the table.
Despite not reaching the playoffs, the season of Tokushima Vortis has been remarkable. Great moments of football have been played, with the idea of Ricardo Rodríguez very present. 18 wins, 11 losses and 13 draws. It is the draws that have penalized the Blues the most, among the top ten only Oita Trinita has tied so much. Tokushima Vortis adds 71 goals in favour, being the second maximum scorer team of the championship. Only Nagoya Grampus has scored more (85). Numbers that lead to 67 points, insufficient for the 68 of JEF United, sixth, and 69 of Tokyo Verdy, fifth in the Japan League 2. The rest of teams qualified for the play-off are Avispa Fukuoka, fourth with 74 points, and Nagoya Grampus, third with 75. Direct promotion to Japan League 1 was for V-Varen Nagasaki (80 points) and Shonan Bellmare (83).
Tokushima Vortis deserved much more against Tokyo Verdy. The match began with a double good opportunity for Tokushima Vortis. First with a shot that Watari did not connect well and later with a shot inside the box that was saved by the goalkeeper of Tokyo Verdy with a great action. In the 20th minute Iwao, with a great free-kick, was stoppped again by Tokyo Verdy’s goalkeeper, very inspired throughout the game. Tokushima Vortis’s goalkeeper Hasegawa also appeared to avoid Pinheiro’s goal with a great save in a set piece action by the locals. However, he could not do anything in the Tokyo Verdy goal in the 30th minute, again in a set piece play, where Tokushima Vortis has suffered a lot throughout the season. Taira, free of mark, headed into the net to put the 1-0 in the scoreboard.
The break time returned the calm to Tokushima Vortis, who found their football and the draw. It was in the 49th minute through Watari, after a great assit by Mawatari’s from right wing. From there on the match entered into a control phase by both teams, who seemed to wait for news from other stadiums. Yet in the 88th minute came Tokyo Verdy’s winning goal. Again on a corner kick. After a shot to the post of Hatanaka followed a series of deflections that did not find good clearance. Finally, it was the lcoal Uchida who took the opportunity to score a goal that would end with the play-off options of Tokushima Vortis. A very sad end, but from which the men of Ricardo Rodriguez must recover to return next year to try the assault to the Japan League 1.