A crucial win for Gifu that brings them within reach of a host of other clubs at the foot of the table.
There were two big bits of team news for the home side. The first was the selection of Shogo Tokihisa in goal. He had been out of the side since the defeat at Mito but he was back in goal in place of Takahiro Takagi. The second major piece of news was the return of the big man. Desmond had come through a training match against Zweigen Kanazawa unscathed and took his place in Gyotoku’s now familiar three at the back.
Gifu got off to the best possible start as they took the lead after only 4 minutes, and it was a memorable goal for Taisuke Mizuno. Atsushi Mio picked up the ball on the left hand side and played a short ball into Mizuno. Mizuno worked the ball on to his right foot before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top left corner. A brilliant goal, and the first of his fledgling pro career – here’s to many more!
Gifu’s joy was short lived however, as in-form Giravanz leveled things on 14 minutes. It came from a bit a sloppy play in defence as Des and Masuyama got their communication wrong which allowed Kim to steal the ball, and his somewhat weak cross managed to trickle across the area to his strike partner Tomoki Ikemoto who had the simple task of putting the ball in the net.
The game took a twist in the 36th minute when the visitors were awarded a highly dubious penalty. There was absolutely no doubt that Desmond fouled Korean forward Kim but it looked clearly outside the area. Des looked incredulous (as he often does) but there was no reprieve for him. Ikemoto stepped up, but he reckoned without spot-kick stopper extrordinaire Tokihisa who dived to his left and palmed it away, making it the fifth penalty he has saved this season. An almost unbelievable run form. The save meant the score remained at 1-1 as the teams went in at half time.
Gifu had a great chance to retake the lead in the 47th minute after Atsuhio Mio was played in by Hiroki Higuchi but Mio’s tame shot was saved by Giravanz ‘keeper Hiroyuki Takeda and Higuchi’s rebound was deflected over the bar. It was an open, end to end game which probably signified the significance that both teams had placed on achieving a positive result from this game. Giravanz had a huge opportunity to go in front in the 66th minute but defender Toru Miyamoto smacked a shot against the bar when it looked easier to score. A massive let off for Gifu and one which they ended taking full advantage of.
Gifu’s second was a penalty, but, as with the one awarded to Giravanz, it looked a harsh decision. Hirofumi Moriyasu, quickly becoming an indispensable part of this Gifu system, latched on to a bouncing ball and prodded into the area before his run was crudely stopped by Junpei Arai. But, again, it looked as if contact was made outside the area but the referee awarded a penalty. Kazuki Someya stepped up and drove the ball hard to Takeda’s right and into the onion bag.
Gifu sealed the win with two minutes left and it was the result of a neat passage of play. Higuchi, tireless as always, found himself on the left wing and he played a low cross into the area. Sub Kiyomoto got to the ball first and cleverly laid it back into the path of hat man Someya who curled the ball into the bottom corner to make the game safe. Full time: FC Gifu 3-1 Giravanz Kitakyushu.
Another good home performance and now it is three wins from the last four games. If ever there was a time to play the rolling machine that is Gamba Osaka, then it is this week. Bring on Endo, Konno, Usami, Kurata…….