It is starting to get serious for FC Gifu as they suffered a morale-sapping loss against a Tetsuya Okubo inspired Yokohama FC on Saturday afternoon.

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

Gifu started the game well with Takachi controlling the tempo and it was no surprise that he had a major role in the opening goal after eight minutes. He completely wrong-footed two Yokohama FC players before driving in to the area. His shot (and it was a shot, not a cross) fell to Rodrigo, and he coolly slotted past Minami in the Yokohama goal.

The first half was pretty end to end. A Naoya Okane header forced a brilliant save from Minami, while at the other end Satoshi Tokizawa produced a string of saves to keep Gifu in front, although that changed in the 34th minute. The ball made its way to Tetsuya Okubo just inside the area and he expertly arrowed a shot past Tokizawa into the far corner.

Just as it looked as if Yokohama FC had grabbed the initiative, Gifu wrestled it back with a goal just before half time. Leo Mineiro flicked a ball into the area, chased on to it and unleashed a sweet half volley into far corner and that goal gave FC Gifu a half time lead.

Gifu had the perfect chance to extend their lead when they were awarded a penalty after Hiroaki Namba was clumsily brought down in the area, but Namba’s subsequent penalty was saved by goalkeeper Minami. Not long after that, things start to trun bad for the visitors as Shun Nogaito received his second yellow card of the afternoon when he crudely brought down Masaru Kurotsu and Gifu had to try and see out the game with 10 men.

In reality, they couldn’t hold out for more than 5 minutes as Tetsuya Okubo headed in his second of the game from a corner after 66 minutes, and he completed his hat-trick three minutes later as pounced on a rebound after Tokizawa had saved from Kurotsu. The home side could’ve had more as Gifu became tired & ragged, but a combination of poor finishing and some good goalkeeping kept the final score at 3-2.

I thought Gifu would win this, and the first half display didn’t change my opinion. But, once again, we managed to lose a game from a winning position. There are caveats: Namba won’t miss many penalties, and we were down to 10 men – but it was alarming how quickly it all unfolded. Almost scary.

Next up is a date with Ken Tokura, Yoshihiro Uchimura, Shinji Ono & Nazarit as Consadole Sapporo roll into town next Sunday.

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