After four games without a win, FC Gifu finally got back on the winning track with a gritty, hard earned win at Mitsuzawa.
Manager Ruy Ramos selected the same starting eleven that played so well against Avispa Fukuoka last week meaning Tomohiro Tanaka again started up front in the absence of Hiroaki Namba. Keiji Takachi started against his former club, another Yokohama old boy Arata Sugiyama was on the bench and Brazilian midfielder Henik appeared in Gifu’s matchday squad for the first time.
Yokohama elected to start with just Park up front, leaving Kurotsu & Ronaldo on the subs bench.
The game got off to an unspectacular start, but came to life in the 15th minute when Gifu were awarded a penalty. A cross from the left by Keisuke Ota was cleared into the path of Taisuke Mizuno, who had sensed an opportunity. Mizuno was barged down accidentally by Onose and the referee awarded a penalty. In all honesty, it was a soft penalty and Yokohama probably were right to feel a little aggrieved. In any event, Nazarit didn’t feel too sorry for Yokohama as he blasted the penalty into the top corner. The rest of the first half was more or less controlled by the home side, and although Yokohama didn’t create any clear cut chances they did have some half chances; Sato volleyed over, Nogami headed over and Park headed straight at Kawaguchi. During the first half Masanori Abe was booked, and that would come into play in the second half.
The second half took on much the same tone as the first, with Yokohama controlling possession without actually looking that dangerous. The game became even harder for Gifu when Masanori Abe received his second yellow card in the 60th minute for…..well, I’m not really sure. It might have been for failing stop after the ref had called for a foul, but he didn’t kick the ball away and he never actually ran anywhere. Abe was as mystified as the rest of us, but the referee made his decision and stuck with it.
Ramos’ reaction was immediate. He took off Masashi Miyazawa and replaced him with Henik who was thrust into a central defensive role. Arata Sugiyama then came on for the injured/tired Alex Santos and it was Henik and Sugiyama who played starring roles in Gifu’s rearguard action. Henik won plenty of balls in the air, while Sugiyama made a brave block in the 89th minute to deny Kurotsu while Iio smashed the rebound into the side netting.
Full time came, and Nazarit slumped on the floor having given everything he could, and he epitomized the effort given by the Gifu players. Kawaguchi & Kitani were once again superb but my man-of-the-match goes to Keisuke Ota. He was outstanding in his pressing, pressuring and relentless chasing. He is starting to look like a player who will contribute heavily this season.
I said last week that Gifu would play worse (than they did against Avispa) and win. As it turns out, we only had to wait one week for that to prove true. Hopefully this is the first away win of many this year. Next up is the visit of Tochigi SC, next Sunday.