Well, well, well. You wait for goals, then loads come at once. Unfortunately, tonight, Gifu found themselves on the wrong end of the result.
Gifu kept the same team that started in Matsumoto, so that meant Tatsuya Arai, hero at the Alwin Stadium, remained on the bench. Masuyama retained his place in centre defence and Higuchi continued up front.
Kataller Toyama were led into town by former Gifu striker Yudai Nishikawa and they came into this game having held leaders Vissel Kobe at home in their previous outing.
Toyama started the game well, with Seo Yong Duk controlling things in the midfield and it was he who was first to come close as he rasped a 25 yard volley just over Shogo Tokihisa’s bar. The Toyama number 11 was involved in all that was good about Kataller’s play, scheming & probing in an advanced midfield position. Gifu were dealt yet another injury blow on 26 mins when midfielder Ri Han Jae was forced off with looked like a groin strain, and he was replaced by Sunday’s goal hero Tatsuya Arai. Not surprisingly Arai received a rapturous welcome on to the pitch. But Arai’s introduction didn’t alter the flow of the game and Kataller really should have gone in front on 40 minutes when Park’s shot from a Seo cut back went just wide. It was close, but the Korean really should have done better. As it was they didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough their dominance deserved as just a minute later as Kuniyoshi’s cross into the Gifu area found ex-Gifu forward Yudai Nishikawa and his cheeky back flick wrong-footed Tokihisa and the ball nestled into the back of the net. The goal was no more than Toyama deserved, and at the break it was 1-0 to the visitors.
Half time saw an attacking change from Koji Gyotoku as he sacrificed defender Shuto Tanaka for forward Kohei Nakashima. The change didn’t work immediately though as Toyama continued where they left off in the first half and they nearly doubled their lead when Kim Young-Keun robbed Arai of the ball but his shot from the edge of the area hit the inside of the post and rebounded to safety. Kataller did get their second goal on 61 minutes though. Nishikawa made some space for himself in the area and he stood the ball up for Seo to rise and head in. Game over. Or not as it turned out….not by a long shot.
Gifu, sensing they had nothing to lose, started to pile forward with Oizumi & Someya peppering suspect Toyama ‘keeper Morita with long balls into the box. They were given a lifeline on 83 minutes when Oizumi’s inswinging free-kick was met by the head Kohei Nakashima who buried the header. Not only was FC Gifu’s first goal at home for….oooh….let’s say a LONG time, but it was Naka’s first pro goal. But no time for celebration, Gifu were now back in the game. However, Kataller went straight down the other end and won a penalty when birthday boy Desmond was adjudged to brought down Kuniyoshi in the area, but it looked a very debatable decision. Daisuke Asahi stepped up to take the penalty but Tokihisa saved it diving low to his left. The save marked the third time he has saved a spot-kick this year, great work from the ‘keeper. Gifu made Asahi pay when Nakashima, then Masuyama headed on a long free kick and Desmond found himself in space and he powered the ball into the net. A birthday which he celebrated with the fans!
Just as you thought there was only going to be one winner, that winner being Gifu, Kataller found the winner in stoppage time. Shota Kimura’s through ball found Funatsu bombing on from full back and he smacked in a vicious shot which zipped past Tokihisa high into the net. A cruel blow in season full of them for Gifu, but it would be hard to argue that Toyama didn’t deserve this win. They looked good, and especially Seo Yong Duk. He was pivotal to all of Toyama’s good work. Nishikawa also played well as the target man, often bringing others into the game and not giving Masuyama a moments peace, and without wanting to sound too “Peter Crouch” like in praise, he has good feet and poise for a big man.
Positives for Gifu: Goals. It has taken me a long time to write this, but at last they look like they might score goals, although 3 of Gifu’s 4 goals have been scored by defenders. The other positive is that there seem to be a number of teams who are, and will be, within reach. Roasso Kumamoto & Thespa Kusatsu look to be in a rut and Gifu should focus on trying to catch those teams.
Negatives for Gifu: Another home defeat. Another injury, this time to midfielder Ri Han Jae. Gifu can ill-afford to get any more injuries, especially to key players like Ri.
Next up: Tochigi SC, Tochigi Green Stadium, KO 1pm