Oooooh, not a very good day up in Ibaraki for Gifu. A heavy defeat plus an injury to an important player.
Coach Koji Gyotoku kept faith with the same side that drew with Roasso Kumamoto last weekend which meant that both Atsushi Mio & Masato Yamazaki kept their places.
For Mito, Yuuto Suzuki started his first game of the season, as his namesake Takayuki was left on the bench.
Gifu started reasonably brightly, but were hit with a double blow on 18 minutes. Desmond cleared some danger from just inside the area, but appeared to pull/tweak his hamstring in the process. His clearance went straight to Yuuto Suzuki who promptly smacked the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out. Desmond’s afternoon was done, and it looked like a significant injury. Shun Nogaito, himself returning after a spell in the treatment room, came on to replace Des. Worse was to come 5 minutes later as a Koji Hashimoto through ball ball found Yuki Yamamura. His shot was tame, but the ball somehow bobbled past Tokihisa in the FC Gifu goal, and Gifu were now staring down the barrel. The game was put to bed in first half injury time when Kazuki Someya unwittingly put the ball the ball past Tokihisa, leaving him stranded, and giving Hashimoto the easiest goal he will ever score in his career. Half time, and it was 3-0 to the hosts.
Gifu brought on Taisuke Mizuno to try and liven things up for Gifu and Higuchi had the first chance of the second half, but he shot weakly at Kasahara. The visitors were thrown a lifeline in the 61st minute when the referee pointed to the spot after Someya was clumsily bundled over. Kazuki stepped up to take it himself and a better penalty you will not see – thumped into the top corner. This was Gifu’s best spell of the game and they missed a golden chance to make it 3-2 in the 67th minute when Nogaito’s cross caused confusion in the Hollyhock area and the ball found its way to Higuchi 6 yards out but he could only see his shot saved by Kasahara. It was a good save, but he really should have been given no chance. After that miss, you could see the confidence flow out of the players and it was no surprise when Mito made it 4-1 four minutes from time. Poor marking from a corner allowed Kei Omoto to freely head in from 7 yards out. Final score: 4-1 to Mito.
More than the result itself, Desmond’s injury is the main worry. If he is out for any period of time it decreases Gifu’s chances of winning games. Having Nogaito back softens the blow a little but Desmond is a massive player in a team that doesn’t have many. Also, I’m on record as saying how much I love Hiroki Higuchi, but he has to start converting the chances he is being given. Last week against Kumamoto and in this game he really should have scored and altered the course of those games.
Still, onwards Gifu go. Next week they face another difficult assignment as they head to Fukuoka to face Hisashi Jogo and the rest of his Avispa cohorts. Hope springs eternal, but hope is in shortening supply at FC Gifu these days.