FC Gifu 1-1 Mito Hollyhock

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A frustrating stalemate for Gifu on Sunday night, and in all honesty a game that most people would rather forget.

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FC Gifu starting XI: Tokizawa, Abe, Okane, Fukaya, Nogaito, Mizuno, Henik, Takachi, Rodrigo, Leo Mineiro, Namba

The main news pre-game was that Satoshi Tokizawa replaced Gakuji Ota in goal, Hiroaki Namba came back into the side and Henik & Masanori Abe both returned from suspension.

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It was a sultry night in Gifu, and it was the pink-clad visitors who made most of the early running, although it was Gifu that had the first chance. Hiroaki Namba headed on a long ball to Keiji Takachi, and the midfielder’s first time volley whistled just past the crossbar. The opening goal of the game came not long after this, and it came from a very familiar source. Keiji Takachi delivered a superb inswinging corner that found the head of Hiroaki Namba, and the frontman merely directed the ball into the net to register his 9th goal of the season.

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Just as quick as Gifu had taken the lead, they relinquished it almost immediately. A very innocuous incident involving Naoya Okane was signalled a free-kick to Mito, and from the free-kick Hollyhock skipper Funatani curled a wicked cross/shot into the far corner, past the despairing reach of Tokizawa in the Gifu goal. This seemed to give the visitors a lift, and Kenji Baba had two decent chances to put Mito in front, but Tokizawa saved one from point blank range, while his other effort curled wide of the post.

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At half time, Keisuke Ota replaced Taisuke Mizuno in midfield, the veteran being asked to provide a steadying influence in the middle of the park. In the second half, I don’t actually remember either goalkeeper making a serious save. Leo Mineiro got through the Mito defence a couple of times but saw his crosses blocked; Mito ‘keeper Kasahara dealt with all the crosses that came his way and Henik blasted a long range shot well over the bar.

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The closest Gifu came to a goal was in the last minute when Shun Nogaito’s deep cross found substitute Tsukasa Masuyama, but he couldn’t direct his volley on target and that proved to be the last chance of the game.

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As I said in the beginning, a frustrating night for Gifu and the supporters. This was a golden chance to put some spce between them and Mito, but to be honest they didn’t show enough in this game to deserve the win.

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It is hard to put the finger on what it was in this game, but I feel that Gifu relied too much on direct balls, and didn’t show enough variety in the attacking third. They seriously need another creative midfielder to take the burden off Takachi. The veteran midfielder can’t do it all himself and the other midfielders lack playmaking skill. I hope to see Yuto Ono given a chance sooner rather than later as he has shown, in his brief appearances, a combination of energy & creativity that I think would work well.

Gifu’s next game is away at Yokohama FC, next Saturday afternoon. We won there last year, can we do it again this year? Hopefully, because it is awfully close at the bottom of the table now. Gifu will take a sizable following to the port city, so hopefully they can bring back that most coveted of souvenir – 3 points.

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We Are Gifu!

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