FC Gifu were beaten at home by Mito Hollyhock for the third year in a row on Sunday night in a game that lacked any real spark.

FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Shuto Tanaka, Abe, Kitani, Iwasaki, Masuyama, Henik, Takachi, Kleiton, Namba, Endo

Mito were the better team in the first half of the first half, forcing a few half chances. Kawaguchi got down to palm away a Funatani shot from distance; Henik cut out a dangerous looking cross from Baba; and Kawaguchi blasted the ball against one of his centre backs (possibly Abe) and was lucky to see the ball roll wide of the post.

Gifu started to come into the game as the half wore on, with Junki Endo, Gifu’s precocious 19 year old forward, involved in everything good. He led a counter attack that was desperately defended by the visitors. He then manouvered himself into space in the area before forcing Mito ‘keeper Kasahara into a smart save. Endo then went close again right before the half time whistle when side-footed a half volley just over the bar. Gifu would have been the happier side going into the break, and would have surely looked to have kicked on in the second half. But…..

The second half was a really flat affair. No urgency, and a glaring lack of quality haunted both sides and it was no surprise that the first goal of the game was a very scrappy/lucky one. Kohei Uchida laid the ball off to substitute Kenta Nishioka around 30 yards and his shot, which seemed destined for Kawaguchi’s arms, took a wicked deflection off Shuto Tanaka and the ball ended up in the net. Tetsuji Hashiratani’s side made the points safe 10 minutes from the end with a goal that was out of place (like a gem on a coal face) in this game due to its class. Keiji Takachi was dispossessed in midfield, Mito broke and the ball found its way to Keisuke Funatani who weighed up his options before clipping a delightful semi-chip past the stranded Kawaguchi.

Game over, although there was time for Hiroaki Namba to head wide from 3 yards out which kind of summed up this performance.

During half time at every FC Gifu home game, the local TV station provides a segment called “ラモスの言葉” – Ramos’ words. Today’s half time words were very prophetic:

  • できないからって諦めたらアカン。できるまで続ける ことが格好いいんだことなんだ” – “Never give up. If it is still possible to achieve, you must keep trying.”

FC Gifu would do well to adhere to that phrase when they make the long trip to Kyushu to face high-flying Giravanz Kitakyushu next Sunday afternoon.