Gifu came away from their northern neighbours with a point, but it was a very hard earned point.

FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Henik, Abe, Shuto Tanaka, Mori, Mizuno, Takachi, Ota, Miyazawa, Namba Nazarit.

Prior to the game, the people from the Gifu Visual Project group performed a spectacular opening routine to welcome the players. Unfortunately I wasn’t there, but lots of people were, and here are some of their tweets:

As for the game, it looked like a rather uninspired affair. However, one man who was inspired was Gifu goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi who produced a string of fine saves to keep this match scoreless.

He was first tested in the 9th minute when Toyama defender Akimoto had a great chance inside the area, but Yoshi got his legs in the way to deflect it away. Toyama were having the better of the early exchanges, and Miyayoshi should have done better from an Uchida cross, but the on-loan Kyoto Sanga frontman could only prod his effort wide. Uchida himself was next to try his luck, smashing a free kick from all of 35 yards inches wide.

Gifu had their first chance when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Toyama box, but on-loan keeper Hironaga turned Nazarit’s shot around the post. Toyama then had a great chance when Miyayoshi played in Takuya Kokeguchi, but Shuto Tanaka produced an excellent tackle to deny him a shooting chance.

Ramos brought Kleiton Domingues on at half time to try and change the flow of the game but the game continued on its course with Toyama having the better of it. Kataller’s big chance, and possibly season defining chance, came in the 76th minute, and Kokeguchi won’t want to watch it again too often. Henik mis-controlled Masashi Miyazawa’s pass which allowed Kokeguchi to step in and steal the ball. The frontman then did really well to outpace Henik but, with just Kawaguchi to beat, Kokeguchi tried to lift it past the keeper and Yoshi put his big frame in the way to produce a brilliant save. Kokeguchi & Nazarit had chances after that, but neither could find the back of the net and the game finished 0-0.

Not a result that does Kataller Toyama any good given that Kamatamare Sanuki won at Tokyo Verdy. I had a feeling that Gifu wouldn’t win this game, not really sure why – possibly due to Toyama thinking this was their best chance of a win for the rest of the season. I think if they’d have had Shoya Nakajima they would have won this game.

But, Kawaguchi produced his second clean sheet in a row – and the defence have got to be happy. I’ve said repeatedly that Kawaguchi is still playing at a high level despite the team conceding lots of goals. It is a product of the way the team is set up, not a reflection on Yoshi’s form. Once again, he preserved points for Gifu with an excellent display of shot-stopping. Viva Yoshikatsu! On the other hand, Henik didn’t look like his normal, confident, strong self during this game. Hopefully he turns it around for next week because he will have in-form Ken Tokura and Consadole Sapporo to deal with.

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