So close to snagging a draw, but at the end of the day yet another defeat for Gifu.
Gifu went with Mio & Shibahara operating behind Higuchi while Moriyasu continued to deputize for the injured Ri Han Jae. Desmond was fit enough to take his place in the now familiar back three of himself, Masuyama & Shuto Tanaka. The big news of the day was Shogo Tokihisa’s demotion to the bench and he was replaced by winter signing Takahiro Takagi.
Avispa had Osmar suspended, but were more than equipped with goalscoring threats as they fielded Hisashi Jogo, Sakata & Ishizu.
Gifu were the first to threaten in the 10th minute when Moriyasu’s header from a Mio corner was cleared off the line by Miyamoto. It was a very scrappy half but Park, Avispa’s young Korean defender, try to liven up the crowd by testing Takagi from fully thirty five yards out. The ball dipped and took a nasty bounce just in front of the ‘keeper, and he sensibly palmed the ball around the post and the corner came to nothing. Just before half time, Avispa’s attacking midfielder Kanamori was taken off after coach Marijan Pusnik was less than enamoured when, instead of choosing playing Jogo for a clear run on goal, he decided to try and “Maradona” his way through the Gifu defence. It was goalless at half time, with Gifu holding their own.
One minute into the second half, Moriyasu picked up a booking and ten minutes later he lunged in on Koji Funayama and was shown his second yellow. Moriyasu protested that he got the ball, but the replay doesn’t do him any favours as it looked a clear yellow card. That left Gifu with over 30 minutes to play with ten men. Things went from bad to worse when Higuchi, working hard helping his defence, pulled back (and maybe clipped) Ishizu as he slalomed his into the box. It was great the Higuchi was helping out, but there were two other Gifu players in attendance so he didn’t really need to commit anything there. Sakata stepped up and coolly sent Takagi the wrong way to put the hosts 1-0 up. Game over, you would have thought. But Gifu stunned the home side five minutes later when they equalized. A Fukuoka clearance was taken by Hattori and played to Nogaito. Nogaito headed the ball on into the path of Shuto Tanaka (Yes – Shuto Tanaka, I kid you not) and lashed in a half volley that whistled past Avispa ‘keeper Mizutani. If only everyone showed that kind of confidence in front of goal. Gifu were now hanging on but they couldn’t see it out as Avispa got what would turn out to be the winner four minutes from the end. Hiroyuki Omata’s perfectly flighted corner was met by Go Nishida and planted his header past Takagi to condemn Gifu to another defeat.
Gifu will be without Moriyasu for next week’s game against Fagiano Okayama. It’s a shame because I like Moriyasu and think he is good player, but he needed to show a little more restraint when making that tackle. Takagi didn’t really have a chance with either goal so I would expect him to retain his place. Avispa looked decent at times, and they have some quality players, but I can’t see them being in the play-off picture. But you never quite know in this league…..