Another 2-2 away draw, and another show of backbone from Karashima’s Gifu side.
As expected Hiroshi Sekita replaced the suspended Tatsuya Arai in the heart of the defence. Yuki Nakamura retained his place up front and he was partnered by Stipe.
Gifu had the first clear chance in the 27th minute. A beautiful through ball from Atsushi Mio found Nakamura and although he was forced a little bit wide he will have been disappointed to fire his shot wide of the post. Gifu didn’t have to wait long for their opening goal though, as it came in the 34th minute. After a corner from Mio resulted in some penalty area ping-pong, Kazuki Someya took control of the ball, weaved into some space and unleashed a left-footed snapshot which beat Yamagata ‘keeper Tokizawa and went in off the post.
Gifu’s lead only lasted five minutes though and it was a very fortunate goal from Montedio’s point of view. Takahiro Takagi punched away a cross from the left but it went only as far as Yuki Nakashima.1 He hit a shot that was cleared off the line by Kitani but the clearance hit Montedio forward Masato Yamazaki in the face and went into the net. That was the last action of the first half, so the teams went in at 1-1.
Montedio went ahead in bizarre circumstances in the 50th minute. A corner from the left evaded everyone and hit Kosuke Kitani on the thigh and looped up over the pint-sized Kazuki Someya who was guarding the post and into the net. Another very unlucky, freakish goal to concede, but this isn’t the same team as earlier in the season which would have capitulated in the face of adversity. They deservedly leveled in the 64th minute through the budding Croatian superstar Stipe. Another excellent delivery from Mio found Tsukasa Masuyama who powered a header towards goal that was parried by Tokizawa but the rebound fell to Stipe who had the simple task of tapping in. Parity restored.
Gifu survived a few hairy moments, most notably when Takagi made a fine save from Hayashi with four minutes left on the clock, but they saw out the game and the result meant that, coupled with Tottori’s defeat in Okayama, Gifu are now four points clear off the foot of the table.
Gifu welcome Ehime FC to Nagaragawa next week and they must be confident of getting a positive result and that will really put Gainare under pressure.