A stalemate in Kyushu that provides more relief for Gifu than it does for their hosts.
Gifu went in with the expected 3-6-1 with Moriyasu taking Hattori’s place in the defensive midfield position. Interestingly the official website had the formation listed as 3-4-3 with Mizuno & Mio in attack but most people knew that was not going to be the case.
Roasso went ahead in the 7th minute on their first meaningful attack. They gained a throw-in on the left hand side and took it quickly. Sugiyama was caught snoozing meaning Shosuke Katayama had time to run to the by-line and his cutback picked out the on-rushing Yuki Horigome whose left foot shot beat Tokihisa. Roasso were by far the brighter team with Nakama & Horigome very quick to support Kitajima up front. Kitajima was close to getting on the end of another Katayama cross while Horigome again tested Tokihisa. Gifu did have one effort, Higuchi made the chance for himself with some enterprising play, but his shot was tame and easily dealt with by Minami.
The second half started in much the same way as the first half with Roasso having the opening attempt. A strong surge up the pitch by Nakama found the impressive Katayama and his left foot shot was smartly stopped by Shogo. Roasso were becoming more nervous as the game went on with interim manager Ikeya becoming more animated on the sideline as the home team dropped deeper & deeper. In the 88th minute Gifu were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out from the Kumamoto goal. Moriyasu stepped up to take it and he bent the ball round the wall the and into the far corner to give Gifu a valuable equalizer. In all honesty it wasn’t the best free-kick you’ll ever see – it was low, it wasn’t particularly fast and Roasso ‘keeper Minami should probably have saved it easily. But none of that really mattered because Gifu had the goal they craved. One note: big congrats to Hirofumi Moriyasu as that free-kick was his first ever J.League goal.
In the end a good point for Gifu. Moriyasu, alongside Someya & Desmond are players that have stepped up their game recently. Those three in particular are the key players for Gifu if they are to get themselves out of trouble. If anything happens to them then Gifu will be in some serious trouble (not that they aren’t already).
Next up for Gifu are in-form Avispa Fukuoka who moved into the play-off spots after a 2-0 against fellow play-off contenders Tochigi SC. As seems to be the norm for Gifu this year, they play a side that has just recently come into form and so this makes it an even more difficult task. Gifu can take heart from the way they acquitted themselves last time against Avispa, losing only to a late goal after going down to 10 men. I’m expecting a good game at the Nagaragawa next week.