Well whaddya know? Another goalless stalemate at the Nagaragawa.
Gifu retained Takagi in goal for this one and they went with Shun Nogaito to replace the suspended Hirofumi Moriyasu in the defensive midfield role.
Visiting Fagiano were without Yuki Oshitani, the ex-Gifu crowd favourite. I’m not sure whether that was due to injury or not, but I would assume that it was as he was coming off scoring a brace last week.
To be fair, this game was mostly about the pressing and pressure from the visitors. They found space almost at will behind Gifu’s “wing backs” of Arata Sugiyama and Kazuki Someya. Fagiano quickly discovered that when they pulled Sugiyama & Someya towards the ball, they could quickly turn the ball around them and there was acres of space to be had. Yet despite Fagiano having all this space to play with, they very rarely found a final ball to trouble Desmond & Masuyama.
Fagiano were the first to threaten when Ishihara picked up the ball on the edge of the box, but his goalbound shot was deflected wide by last week’s goalscorer Shtuo Tanaka. Okayama almost took the lead their initial dominance had warranted on 12 minutes. Ren Sengoku’s nice through pass found Shinichiro Kuwada but his shot rolled agonizingly against the post with Takagi beaten. Tomoyuki Arata was next to try his luck as he found a yard of space in the box but he could only fire his shot straight at Takagi. It was all Fagiano at this point and Ryo Tadokoro was unfortunate to see his shot deflected behind by Arata Sugiyama. Half time came and Fagiano must have been wondering how it was still 0-0, such was their superiority.
The second half descended into an “attritional” affair, meaning Okayama had most of the ball, but they just couldn’t find a way past Gifu’s three central defenders. There weren’t many chances at all in the second period, although there was one moment of excitement for Gifu as Higuchi latched on to a through ball and hit a shot that whistled just wide of Nakabayashi’s left post. Tadokoro tried his luck with a free kick but Takagi was equal to it. Full time, and a draw that won’t linger long in the memory.
I suppose Gifu should be happy with a point against a team that will be in and around the play-offs and every point is seemingly hard-earned. Fagiano, for all their nice, neat passing, didn’t really trouble Gifu that much and I think Takagi (who was solid in goal) only had a couple of actual saves to make. All in all, two teams that didn’t really merit a win.
Next for Gifu is the phenomenon that is V-Varen Nagasaki and they will come to Nagaragawa armed with ex-Gifu striker Koichi Sato. I can’t see another 0-0 next Saturday night.