A good performance, but an ultimately disappointing result as FC Gifu were held to a home draw by the visiting Gunma side.
FC Gifu starting XI: Ota, Masuyama, Abe, Takagi, Nogaito, Henik, Ono, Rodrigo, Takachi, Leo Mineiro, Namba
It was the visitors that started the brighter with forward Ataru Esaka & Kaique combining well in some short passing combinations, although Leo Mineiro came close to scoring with a volley that went just wide. Gunma took the lead midway through the first half and although it was a fine goal, it was a goal that, on deeper reflection, Gifu could have prevented. The lively Esaka picked up the ball near halfway and ran at the Gifu defence. He was allowed to run almost to the edge of the area without anyone trying to tackle him and as Gifu sat off him, he arrowed a beautiful shot straight into the bottom corner to put Gunma 1-0 up.
Gifu had a good chance to equalize when Kazumichi Takagi found some space in the area, but the big centre-back couldn’t direct his header on target. Gunma went up the other end and nearly took a two goal lead when Ryo Kobayashi’s cross/shot hit the Gifu post and that proved to be the last meaningful action of the first half as Gunma went into changing rooms 1-0 up.
Gifu came out for the second half fired up, and almost equalized straight away as Keiji Takchi’s free kick found the head of Hiroaki Namba, but the division’s top scorer could only watch as his header hit the post and rebounded to safety. Gifu kept pushing and Leo Mineiro had a couple of half chances to equalize before Henik got the all important leveler. The ball fell loose around 25 yards out and Henik made it his before unleashing a rocket past Gunma ‘keeper Daiki Tomii, a superb strike and one that gave renewed hope & enthusiasm to the fans.
Gifu had a scare when Gunma sub Yuichiro Nagai blasted over from close range, but apart from that it was all one-way traffic as the hosts went for the win. Leo Mineiro had a header saved by Tomii, and Tsukasa Masuyama came so close when flashed a shot just wide of the post. Full time came, and both teams had to settle for a point.
Despite the result, this was a good performance from the team. Henik was immense, and his form recently has been superb. Leo Mineiro again troubled the opposition with his pace and energy. Just the one lapse in concentration from Gifu cost them this game, when no-one went out to close Esaka down and that is what will disappoint Ramos the most.
Next week, a trip to the Fukuda Denshi Arena to take on promotion chasing JEF United.