FC Gifu 0-1 Consadole Sapporo

FC Gifu supporters pre-game

Ooooh, it has taken me a while to get around to doing this report, probably due to the lingering sense of anger & disappointment from the game.

FC Gifu starting XI: Tokizawa, Masuyama, Okane, Abe, Suzuki, Henik, Takachi, Ono, Rodrigo, Namba, Leo Mineiro

Consadole started the game the better, looking confident in possession, and using the full width of the Nagaragawa pitch to test Gifu full backs Masuyama & young Jun Suzuki, but the home side gradually gained a foothold in the game thanks to the tireless work of Henik, who got in amongst his more vaunted opponents in the Consadole midfield. As Gifu grew in confidence, Yuto Ono smacked a shot just over, while Hiroaki Namba almost got a shot off but a superb diving block by Consa defender Ryuji Kawai stopped it from testing Junki Kanayama in goal.

Just as it looked like Gifu were getting the upper hand, the were sucker-punched by a penalty. A long ball from the back was flicked over the head of Naoya Okane into the path of Sapporo winger Hiroyuki Furuta and he was nudged over by Jun Suzuki, and the referee gave the spot kick. At first look, it looked harsh but I think Suzuki did extend his arm. Was it soft? Yes. Would I have been upset if it happened to a Gifu player and it wasn’t awarded? definitely. (More on that later). J2’s in-form striker Ken Tokura stepped up and sent Gifu ‘keeper Tokizawa the wrong way to put the visitors 1-0 up.

Ken Tokura puts Consadole Sapporo 1-0 up from the penalty spot

Gifu almost leveled just before half time, but Rodrigo’s overhead kick was cleared off the line. On closer inspection, he had not one, but two Sapporo players pulling him back. It really should have been a penalty, but it wasn’t and FC Gifu went in 1-0 down at the break.

In the second half Sapporo kept Gifu at arms length, although it could have been so different if Gifu had been given the penalty they deserved in the 59th minute. A sweet passing move lead to Yuto Ono bursting through into the area and he was quite clearly brought down from behind, but the referee remained unmoved. In my view, there was no difference between Sapporo’s penalty and Ono’s incident but the referee for some reason decided there was, much to FC Gifu supporters’ chagrin. Ramos gambled and threw on three subs including 18 year old Yudai Ogawa who came on to make his professional debut. It was one of the substitutes that almost grabbed an equalizer but Junki Endo, latching on to a sublime ball from Keiji Takachi, fired agonizingly at Kanayama when either side of him would have resulted in a goal.

Leo Mineiro had a decent chance, but his volley went wide while at the other end Tokizawa made a string of saves to keep the score close but the final whistle came and the game ended 0-1.

It could have been so different, but when you are at the bottom those kinds of decisions don’t go for you. It shouldn’t disguise the fact that Gifu just weren’t good enough to break Sapporo down often enough, and this despite the visitors keeping Shinji Ono and Nazarit on the bench. It was highly frustrating viewing for most the home fans, and something needs to be done vary the approach. Gifu resorted to Naoya Okane playing  up front as they went more direct, but they really should have a target man on their books anyway. That much was painfully obvious as the giant Paulon headed anything that came near him.

Nazarit was on the bench for Sapporo – oh how Gifu could’ve used him
FC Gifu supporters never stopped singing…..except to boo the ref

What’s next for Gifu? Oh, only a trip to see Jay Bothroyd, Adailton, Yuki Nakamura and Jubilo Iwata. Crikey. But we never give up…..We are Gifu!

Goalkeepers Satoshi Tokizawa & Gakuji Ota bow to supporters

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