A hard fought win for Gifu in the torrential Nagasaki rain gives cause for optimism for the rest of the year.
FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Abe, Kitani, Nakamura, Iwasaki, Henik, Higa, Takachi, Kiyomoto, Inoue, Namba
Hiroaki Namba replaced the suspended Nazarit, while Hideyuki Nakamura retained his place in the team. Kosuke Kitani came back after suspension, and Yohei Iwasaki made his debut.
For V-Varen Nagasaki, Stipe Plazibat made his his first appearance against Gifu, and Koichi Sato also started against his old club.
Nagasaki started the game better, with Stipe getting a couple of looks down the left, and it was he who was first to test Kawaguchi with a long range effort but Yoshi did well to hold on to the ball in the slippery conditions. The hosts also forced a couple of corners which caused a little panic in the area, but Kitani & Nakamura stood firm.
Gifu took the lead in the 21st minute, slightly against the run of play. A Keiji Takachi free kick was only half cleared, and when Yohei Iwasaki went to head the ball, he got a boot in the face from Nagasaki defender Yamaguchi. No intent, but it was a clear penalty and Yamaguchi picked up a yellow card for his troubles. Hiroaki Namba kept his cool to send Nagasaki ‘keeper Nakamura the wrong way. Namba could have had second after a beautiful reverse pass from Takachi, but the frontman put his shot just the wrong side of the post.
Half time saw the introduction Tsukasa Masuyama in place of Iwasaki, possibly feeling the effects of that kick in the face, while for agasaki Stipe was taken off and replaced by Korean youngster Lee Yong Jae. Gifu were indebted to Masanori Abe on the hour, as he made a stunning block to stop Hiroyuki Okuno’s certainly goalbound shot going. A truly heroic piece of defending from the young centre back. Gifu got out of jail again moments later when a teasing cross from Lee was met by Koichi Sato, but his shot deflected off Henik, on to the post, and out for a corner.
Keiji Takachi had a 20 yarder saved before Hiroaki Namba made the game safe in stoppage time. Substitutes Keisuke Ota & Masuyama combined down the right, and Masuyama’s low cross evaded the grasp of Nakamura and NMB24 will never score an easier goal. 2-0, and game over.
A very good win, and a win that has the ability to transform a season. Gifu are now only 6 points away from the play-offs and have winnable games coming up. Once again, Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was superb, as was Hideyuki Nakamura. Takachi was his usual cool self while Namba did what was required of him. This was the third away win in a row – now if only we could sort out our home form…….