Gifu were undone by two good strikes on their visit to north Kanto.

Coack Koji Gyotoku made a couple of changes to the team that lost 3-2 to Kataller Toyama in midweek. Makoto Shibahara made his debut in midfield after joining on loan from Shimizu S-Pulse and Hiroyuki Sugimoto made his full debut for the club up front. Hirofumi Moriyasu came in to replace Arata Sugiyama as the visitors went for what looked liked a more attacking set up.

The hosts came into this on the back of a 1-0 win in Tokushima and the goalscorer in that game, Brazilian striker Sabia, was again only on the bench for Tochigi.

Tochigi were the bosses of the first half, with only a couple of ambitious pot-shots from Atsushi Mio for the small traveling band of Gifu fans to get excited about. It looked to be heading for a 0-0 half time score but right on the stroke of half time Takuro Kikiuoka curled in a peach of a free-kick into he top right hand corner past the despairing dive of Tokihisa. The lead was probably a fair reflection of the game thus far.

At half time Gifu brought on Kohei Nakashima to replace Sugimoto, but after only 4 minutes of the second half Tochigi scored their second. Good work down the left by Koji Hirose led to a cutback which rocket-footed Cristiano smashed into the net via the left hand post. Tochigi missed numerous chances to add to their lead, the best when Hirose somehow shot wide from 5 yards out, whilst Gifu could only muster a Kazuki Someya shot and a Hiroki Higuchi long distance volley.

This was always going to be a difficult game, and if Gifu had made it to half time scoreless we may have seen a different outcome. But, they didn’t and they are still rooted firmly to the bottom of the table. Their upcoming schedule doesn’t make nice reading either, seeing as in the next three games they face Montedio Yamagata (H), Gamba Osaka (A) and JEF United (H) in the so-called ‘Golden week’. Things are going to get more difficult before they get better.

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