FC Gifu snared a precious point in their survival battle as a wondergoal snatched a 1-1 draw for the visitors.
In coach Karashima’s second game in charge, Hiroki Higuchi was brought in to partner Ilijovski up front. Hattori was restored in midfield with Someya & Mio patrolling the wide areas.
For the hosts, top scorer Kempes returned from suspension to lead the line while new signing Takuyuki Morimoto was on the bench.
In the worst possible start, Gifu went 1-0 down inside two minutes. A free kick from the left by Daisuke Ito was met by JEF captain Satoshi Yamaguchi, and his deft flick was just enough to beat Tokihisa at his near post. The half was mostly JEF, but Gifu did have a sight of goal on 34 minutes, when Ilijovski skipped across the face of the area before having his goalbound shot blocked. Neither team created much in the first half, and the half time score was JEF 1-0 FC Gifu.
It was a far more attacking JEF that re-appeared for the second half, Jun Suzuki had obviously told them to put this game out of reach of the visitors. 4 minutes into the half, Kempes wasted a good chance when he was unmarked at the back post, but his miscued shot failed to trouble Tokihisa. Gifu had a huge let-off in the 54th minute when JEF had a goal disallowed for offside. Otsuka’s superb through-ball was met by Yazawa who coolly tucked the ball away, but the offside flag had already gone up. It looked marginal at best, and was a decisive decision that went in Gifu’s favour (at last!).
And then, the bolt from the blue. Someya made his way down the right hand side before pulling the ball back to Masuyama. There was nothing on, so Masuyama let fly with a first time, right foot shot that arced over Okamoto and into the top corner. A truly special goal from the ex-JEF man.
JEF were stung, and on 73 minutes, nearly took the lead again. Kempes found space on the right hand corner of the area, and he produced a stunning effort which cannoned back off the crossbar with Tokihisa beaten. The ball fell to Yazawa who put the rebound in, but he had controlled it with his arm and was penalized, nullifying his goal. Three minutes later, Yazawa’s pass set Kempes free, but the striker showed poor skills in dragging his shot wide. It was a glorious chance, and one which most people thought he would take. Morimoto came on for his debut, but couldn’t produce anything, and the game eventually finished 1-1.
It was a backs-to-the-wall effort, but it shows it can be done. Gifu now face a very important game next week, as confidence-starved Tokyo Verdy visit the Nagaragawa. Verdy manager Yasutoshi Miura is under severe pressure there, so it could be a nervy Sunday evening next week.