Another disappointing defeat for the hosts as the games start to run out.
Gifu gave a debut to NZ/Japanese forward Kayne Vincent as Gyotoku went for 2 up front. Shuto Tanaka came in for Tatsuya Arai at the back.
Avispa came into town on form and made their intentions clear by starting with Ishizu, Jogo & Sakata in what looked like a 3 up front scenario.
Avispa made most of the early running with “wingers” Ishizu and Jogo getting on the ball often. Ishizu in particular was giving Sugiyama problems down the Avispa left. Gifu had got into some promising positions down the flanks, but some poor decision making let those chances slip away and they were made to pay when Avispa took the lead in the 15th minute. A cross from the right (possibly from Jogo but I couldn’t quite make it out) found Daisuke Sakata abosultely free in the middle of the penalty area and his powerful and well directed header gave Tokihisa no chance.
Avispa had other half chances to add to their lead, but they couldn’t and they went in at half time “just” one goal up. The game became a bit more open in the second half as Gifu traditionally play better after half time, for whatever reason that may be. They had a glorious chance to equalize on the hour as Higuchi’s cross from the right found debutant Vincent completely unmarked six yards out, but he somehow put his header wide. In the context of Gifu’s season, we simply can’t afford to miss chances like those. 5 minutes later Jun Kanakubo took advantage of the miss when he curled a beautiful shot from the edge of the area into the top corner. The Gifu supporters continued to cheer their team as Gifu looked for a way back into the game. Someya hit the bar, Desmond came close at the far post and new signing Dong shot over as Gifu tried, but failed, to find a goal.
Full time came, and the final score was FC Gifu 0-2 Avispa. The reception that the players and coaches got from the fans was mixed. I heard a lot of boo-ing, especially from the “core” supporters. Most of it quite fair, and I don’t think it was a reaction to this game in particular, but a reaction to the season, the realization that the team could quite easily be relegated and Gyotoku’s seemingly mysterious substitution policy. How Sugiyama stayed on last night, I’ll never know. He was Gifu’s worst player, but seemingly has a free pass as Gyotoku can’t figure out how to replace him.
Next up is a trip to Fagiano. Not one you’d instantly think would be ripe for a result. Then the week after that they face another in-form team in Tokushima Vortis. The next home game is on August 11th when Vissel Kobe come to the Nagaragawa Memorial Centre. It takes an optimist to see even 1 point being gained in those games.