Not an ideal way to finish the season at home, but the more important result was in Kitakyushu where Giravanz Kitakyushu, on the back of yet another impressive performance by Tomoki Ikemoto, beat Gainare Tottori 2-1 to condemn Gainare to bottom spot in J2.
I wasn’t at Nagaragawa on Sunday, so I’m just going off the brief highlights I saw. Takahiro Takagi, impressive for much of the season, must really want Consa to get into the play-offs, because this is the second poor game he has had against them this year. He let a weak Shinya Uehara somehow slip through his grasp to allow Consa to go 1-0 up, he then followed that up by weakly palming out a header straight into the path of J2’s hottest striker this side of Usami, Yoshihiro Uchimura who easily tapped in.
The game was made safe with another Uchimura goal midway through the second half and it finished 3-0 to the visitors. This is often what happens when play-off chasers face strugglers, so there is no shame in losing this game. Consa look the real deal and it wouldn’t surprise to see them sneak into the play-offs.
However, the defeat didn’t matter because of events in Kitakyushu. It gives me no pleasure to see Gainare struggling so badly, but of course I’m happy Gifu will be in J2 next year.
The main event of the day though was the “retirement ceremony” for Gifu skipper Toshihiro Hattori. The result wasn’t fitting, but the 7000+ crowd that turned up was. He gave a rather teary speech at the end, and there were a few tears shed in the stands too. He got a deserved rousing reception from the Gifu (and Sapporo) supporters, and it was topped off with a group photo, “group” meaning team, Seconds, youth, staff and fans, in front of the core supporters. A fitting image to end the Nagaragawa season on.
All that remains is a trip north to Toyama on Sunday.