Isn’t football strange sometimes? Gifu conceded three goals in their last game against Roasso Kumamoto, but managed to blank the league’s most fearsome attacking unit.

FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Abe, Fukaya, Hideyuki Nakamura, Mori, Masuyama, Takachi, Kiyomoto, Sudo, Namba, Nazarit

A few changes from the side that capitulated against Kumamoto – definitely a more defensive outlook and debuts for Yuki Fukaya & Yusuke Sudo

Well, the highlights for Gifu aren’t many – Tsukasa Masuyama fired a shot wide in the first half and Takumi Kiyomoto shot into the side netting in the second half. And……that was about it. This game was far more about resolve & determination than attacking. There were more than a few scares: Keiji Takachi cleared of the line in the first half; Kawaguchi brilliantly saved from Kikuchi; Shuto Tanaka prevented a certain goal by clearing the ball away from two Bellmare forwards in front of an open goal to name just a few.

But Shonan are the best team in the league by miles – and Gifu stopped them. Was it pretty? If you ask Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, he’ll say yes. Ramos probably doesn’t like that kind of football, so he would say no. The main thing is that Gifu were strong and organized defensively, something that has been missing an awful lot at times this year.

The debutants were impressive – Yuki Fukaya understandably looked a bit nervous and tired but he stood up well to Wellington. Yusuke Sudo was superb – almost like a Gladiator in midfield. He could have folded after receiving a yellow card in the first half but it didn’t taper his aggression – if anything the booking enhanced it. Fans love that kind of player and I hope he gets the chance to cement a place in the side next Saturday.

Next up: play-off chasing Montedio Yamagata at home

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