Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Gifu surrender yet another lead, this time against a team with 10 men, to hand Ivica Barbaric a precious point on his full Sapporo debut.

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FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Abe, Henik, Mori, Masuyama, Mizuno, Miyazawa, Takachi, Kleiton, Ota, Namba

Both teams had chances to take the lead in a pretty even first period. Hiroaki Namba lofted a chip just over the Consadole cross-bar and Keisuke Ota fizzed a shot just wide, while at the other end giant Brazilian defender Paulon headed wide after evading his marker. It looked like the first half would end goalless, but Kleiton Domingues struck right on the whistle. He picked up the ball 25 yards out and his shot took a deflection which took it past Junki Kanayama in the Consadole goal – a goal which his bright performance merited.

Gifu started the second half on the front foot, but weren’t able to capitalize on the territorial superiority. Kleiton struck a free kick just over, and Masanori Abe’s superb cross evaded everyone in the box. Gifu looked like they had received a boost when Paulon was sent off for a second booking, but the sending off seemed to affect Gifu a lot, and they began to get pushed back more and more. Led by the superb Yoshihiro Uchimura, Consadole probed & probed and finally got the equalizer they probably just deserved in the 88th minute. Uchimura¬†was in the right place at the right time to fire in a loose ball although there did look to be a Consadole player blocking Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi’s view in an offside position.

There was still time for Gifu to go agonizingly close to a winner, but Keiji Takachi’s close range shot was tipped wide by Kanayama and so the game finished 1-1.

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Another tale of “what might have been” for FC Gifu. So many times at home this year they have dropped points when they should have. If they had held all of their leads, they would comfortably be in the play-off places. But they’re not, and that is the plain truth.

Still, onwards & upwards – and eastwards as FC Gifu head to the Fukuda Denshi Arena to take on a reeling JEF United Chiba on Saturday. Tsukasa Masuyama struck a sensational goal there last year, and here’s hoping lightning can strike twice.

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