Another trip to Ehime, another blank on the scoresheet. But a scoreless draw doesn’t do the game justice.
Gifu brought in Keisuke Ota for his first start as he replaced the injured Stipe Plazibat on the right of midfield. Alex Santos came back into the team at left back with Shun Nogaito, who is in very impressive form right now, shifted to the right side of defence.
Ehime lined up in their usual 3-4-2-1 formation with youngsters Horigome & Harakawa supporting Kawahara up front.
The game was played in very windy conditions, meaning both teams did their best to keep the ball on the ground and out of the effect-radius of the wind. Gifu had a lot more of the ball in the first part of the first half, but didn’t really create much, save for a Taisuke Mizuno shot that went wide of the post. That was really the only goalmouth action of the half – Ehime had a half chance, and Nazarit had a shot deflected over but really the teams couldn’t get to grips with the wind.
The second half was a completely different story however, as both teams upped the pace and went looking for goals. FC Gifu were again fast out of the blocks, nearly taking the lead in the 49th minute when Nazarit’s header brought a fantastic save from new Ehime keeper Tsuyoshi Kodama. Nazarit came so close to a goal five minutes later. Hiroaki Namba’s cross from the right evaded Kodama, but Rindo cleared Nazarit’s header off the line.
Now it was Ehime’s turn to attack and they were getting in down the sides a lot. A good chance came in the 72nd minute, but Kawaguchi made an excellent save from Ryota Watanabe’s close range shot. More work was in store for Yoshikatsu, two minutes later he turned a Harakawa shot over the bar whilst he also made another decent save in the dying minutes. Ramos once again brought on youngsters Kiyomoto & Junki Endo, but the match finished a scoreless draw.
Positives: I know it was 0-0, but Gifu will feel very unlucky to come away just a point. On another day Nazarit would have had at least two goals. Mizuno is getting better by the game. Perhaps the impressive part about Gifu right now is the defensive triangle that is being forged between Kawaguchi, Kitani and Abe. They look like they have played together for year. Abe looks an outstanding prospect.
Negatives: Failed to score for the first time this year, but it was just an unlucky day. Gifu might have to do something about helping the full backs with some more cover. Alex & Nogaito (or whoever the full backs are) need help because they get exposed time and time again. It is all well and good setting up with an attacking mindset, but if it leaves your defence exposed then it is almost a self-defeating game plan.
Next up: Avispa Fukuoka, home, Saturday, 1pm KO