- FC Gifu 1-1 V-Varen Nagasaki (Santos; Azuma)
- Attendance: 13,016
- Bookings: Kitani; Lee Dae Hong, Okuno
- FC Gifu man of the match: Alex Santos
Another home draw after taking the lead, Gifu will be disappointed not to have taken 3 points in front of another bumper crowd at the Nagaragawa.
FC Gifu starting XI (4-5-1): Kawaguchi, Masuyama, Abe, Kitani, Santos, Miyazawa, Henik, Takachi, Ota, Mio, Nazarit
Atsushi Mio was brought in to man the left side of midfield, while it looked like Keisuke Ota and Keiji Takachi would asked to help Colombian forward Nazarit.
The game got off to cracking start as Gifu were awarded a penalty in the second minute. A long ball into the box was aimed at Nazarit, but a V-Varen defender tugged his shirt, the referee saw it, and awarded the spot kick. Regular penalty taker Hiroaki Namba was on the bench, so Nazarit stepped up, but his effort was saved by visiting GK Okubo. Luckily for Gifu, Alex Santos was first to the rebound and he made no mistake from close range.
After the goal, it was all Nagasaki as the visitors took a firm grip on the game. They had some good chances before they carved Gifu open in the 19th minute, leaving the impressive Hiroshi Azuma plenty of time to slot past Kawaguchi. There were more chances for either side: Kawaguchi produced a fine save to deny Sato, while Keiji Takachi volleyed just over from the edge of the area.
Half time saw Taisuke Mizuno replace Atsushi Mio, and the on loan Grampus youngster’s introduction changed Gifu’s outlook and heralded the home team’s best spell of the game. They started to cut Nagasaki open with ease and this led to chances for Nazarit, Ota and Takachi. Nazarit will be mad at himself for not scoring one his chances: one a fierce shot after a great ball through by Miyazawa, and the second a close range header that he just couldn’t direct either side of the keeper.
Nagasaki made a couple of changes up front, bring on ex-JEF United forward Masaki Fukai and the tall Rui Komatsu. It was the latter who nearly got on the scoresheet but his looping header hit the top of the crossbar and went over.
There was a big moment of controversy two minutes from time when V-Varen thought they had scored, but the assistant referee refused to signal that the ball had crossed the line. It came as result of some good work on the left from Fukai, and his attempted pullback ricocheted off Masashi Miyazawa and headed goalwards. The ball looked to be trickling in but Keisuke Ota somehow made up the ground to hack off the line. The Nagasaki players closest to it were convinced the ball had crossed the line, but no goal was given.
So, ultimately a disappointing draw but the reality is that it could quite easily have been a defeat. To look at the positives, Taisuke Mizuno was excellent when he came on. He gives Gifu a lot of energy and he can pick good passes. Nazarit, although he will be disappointed not to have scored, was excellent as a lone striker. And Alex had his best game for the club. He was excellent in attack and defence.
It is always wrong to focus on “what ifs….” but FC Gifu have conceded home leads against JEF United, Giravanz Kitakyushu and now V-Varen Nagasaki. IF they start holding on to leads, the season can get better very quickly. They now face a run of games against teams around them in the table (Consadole Sapporo, Roasso Kumamoto, Yokohama FC) so hopefully the team can start to see out more games from winning positions. That will make the fans come back time and time again.