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Busan 2-2 Suwon: Recap

My last K League match had many familiar features for Busan IPark games. Moments of hope. Moments of despair. Moments of bemusement. And an ultimate feeling that's best described with a Korean word - 아깝다.

Screenshot courtesy of busanipark.com


Coach Denis made just one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Jeonnam just over a week ago. Out went Weslley, and in came Yoon Dong-min. The starting XI's looked like this.

Starting XI for Busan vs Suwon. Screenshot courtesy of kleague.com

Busan XI: Lee Chang-geun; Park Joon-gang, Noh Haeng-seok, Lee Gyeong-ryeol, Gu Hyun-joon; Joo Se-jong, Jeon Sung-chan, Kim Jin-kyu; Jung Seok-hwa, Yoon Dong-min, Bae Chun-seok

Suwon XI: Noh Dong-gun; Oh Beom-seok, Yeon Je-min, Yang Sang-min, Gu Ja-ryong; Baek Ji-hoon, Cho Chan-ho, Lee Sang-ho, Santos, Yeom Ki-hoon; Seo Jung-jin

Suwon took an early lead after some comical/moment of madness goalkeeping by Lee Chang-geun. The ball looked to be trickling out for a corner, but Lee in an attempt to prevent it, dived for the ball and pushed it back in front of the goal where Lee Sang-ho pounced and tapped in to give Suwon a 10' lead.

All was not lost, and fairly predictably Busan started to control the match as the visitors looked to defend their lead. The midfield showed some nice touches and combinations, but as has been the case all season, the final pass and decision making in last third was lacking. Only a few clear cut chances came, and Noh Dong-geun was up to the task of keeping Busan out. The equalizer did come though, shortly before the interval as captain Lee Gyeong-ryeol rose highest to head in a Joo Se-jong corner. The half ended 1-1.

The second half was more of the same as Busan continued to push Suwon in search of a winner. It came in the 61' as Bae Chun-seok broke free down the right and put a good cross in for Jung Suk-hwa to tap home from close range. Suwon was livid as Gu Ja-ryong felt he was pushed by Bae in the build up to the goal. Gu and Bae were in a foot race to the ball and when Gu tried to turn and punt the ball clear he felt that Bae gave him a push that caused him to miss the ball and fall down. In my (slightly biased) view, there was little wrong as it looked like Gu simply lost his balance as he spun.

But just as predictably as Suwon had sat back to defend their lead, Busan now did the same and Suwon's pressure increased. Suwon's equalizer came from a mental lapse by Busan. Suwon won a corner and while Busan was trying to organize and receive tactical instructions from the bench, Cho Ji-hoon quickly sent in the corner and Oh Beom-seok scored with Busan in disarray. A sloppy goal to concede, but par the course for Busan's season.

By this time both teams were fairly spent and the draw was accepted.

Can Denis right the ship?

Suwon writer Steve Price asked me in the writer's chat this question before the game, and I answered that I didn't think Denis had the time/quality to right the Busan ship. And after watching the game I maintain that position. There have been some improvements since Denis took over, and perhaps the board should consider him for the full job (particularly if they drop). The midfield looked decent, and Noh Haeng-seok and Lee Gyeong-ryeol formed a dominant (aerial) partnership. Busan had plenty of energy, and to use a slight cliche, they won the majority of the 50-50 balls and pounced on Suwon mistakes.

However, the lack of quality in attack cannot be coached out. Nor can the fear that seems to creep into the team every time they have a result to defend late. It's a point I've been harping on since early in the season, but last night's late equalizer marked the 17th goal conceded after the 75'.

Goals conceded by interval

0-15: 5
16-30: 3
31-45: 6
46-60: 5
61-75: 7
76-90: 17

Goals scored and conceded by time period. Screenshot courtesy of busanipark.com

Clearly these are issues that cannot be fixed over the next nine games of the season. Busan's last four games before the split will not be easy with three of them on the road. The team will travel to Gwangju next week, then away to Incheon, home to Jeju, and finally away to Pohang.

I don't want to be totally defeatist, but the playoff spot is almost assured. Results last night were not kind to Busan as both Gwangju and Ulsan won. The gap to 10th (still Ulsan) is now nine points. If Busan is to have any chance they must hope they can grab a couple wins (maybe vs Gwangju and Jeju) before the split and then virtually run the table post-split.

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