A vital win for Gifu as they survived a late scare to emerge victorious on a tense night down by the river.
FC Gifu starting XI: Ota, Abe, Okane, Fukaya, Nogaito, Henik, Miyazawa, Masuyama, Takachi, Leo Mineiro, Namba
Gifu got off to the best possible start when they took the lead after only 57 seconds, and it was a familiar face back on the scoresheet. Tsukasa Masuyama won the ball in midfield, fed Masanori Abe down the right and his perfect cross found Hiroaki Namba who headed in off the bar to record his seventh goal of the year, and his 50th in J2.
It was a pretty even first half, but Yuji Senuma had two gilt-edged chances to equalize for Ehime; firstly blasting over after out-muscling Yuki Fukaya and secondly firing straight at Gakuji Ota from close range. Ehime were made to pay the hosts when they doubled their lead just before half time. The excellent Keiji Takachi intercepted a pass in midfield, proceeded into the area before finding Leo Mineiro on his right, and the Brazilian forward kept his cool to slot home his third of the campaign. The half time whistle came, and Gifu went in with a precious two goal advantage.
Ehime came out a bit quicker in the second half, showing more urgency, but it was Gifu that had the first real chance of the half. Shun Nogaito cut the ball back from the by-line to the edge of the area where Henik blasted a first time effort thet Ehime ‘keeper Kodama tipped over the bar. The visitors threw forward Go Nishida on, and the substitution paid dividends as headed in from a corner to ensure a tense last 15 minutes. Those fifteen minutes weren’t without their scary moments, as Kodama made his way up for a corner and Ehime put in cross after cross, but Gifu held firm to record a very important win.
There lots of good performances from the Gifu side. Namba & Leo look a decent, energetic pairing up front. Keiji Takachi is the most important player in this Gifu team, he always seems to find space and use the ball well. But it took a good defensive effort from the team yesterday, and I thought Naoya Okane was superb. He had a running battle with Yuji Senuma all night long, but he mostly had the better of him. Okane was good in the air, he covered well (especially when Nogaito went forward) and his partnership with Fukaya was the key to this win.
The bottom of J2:
So, FC Gifu finally move off the bottom, but they face a key test next week when they travel to 20th placed Roasso Kumamoto. But with 7 points from the last 12, Gifu will be in good spirits. Hopefully their good form can continue.