It has been a while! Apologies for the break – real life takes it out of us all at points. But it doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for FC Gifu! And nor should it yours.
So, to try and get back in the groove, here is a round of Gifu’s latest games – starting with the May 8th game at home to Shimizu S-Pulse.
FC Gifu 1-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
In the final “Golden Week” fixture, Gifu got off to the worst possible start as Shimizu’s star striker Genki Omae curled in a free-kick after just four minutes. Shimizu had plenty of chances to add to that lead during a dominating opening 20 minutes, and Gifu were indebted to the fine form of Yoshinari Takagi who made some excellent saves.
Gifu drew level in somewhat controversial circumstances when Masanori Abe headed in a free-kick – although Shimizu were convinced that Tatsuya Tanaka had the final touch from an offside position.
In the second half, Gifu were the better team and nearly snatched the win in additional time but Yuto Ono’s shot was saved at point blank range.
This game showed real positive signs for Gifu. Evandro played well, but it was livewire winger/forward Tatsuya Tanaka who stole the show. His fearless running and electric pace made life hell for the S-Pulse full backs and it was in that game that his potential was made visible to all.
Fagiano Okayama 0-1 FC Gifu
With a backs to the wall performance, and a man-of-the-match performance from the crossbar, Gifu sneaked a win at the CityLight stadium, Okayama.
Opponents Okayama were flying high at the time, threatening to make good on their potential (as they threaten to do each year) and they bombarded Gifu’s goal from the off with ex-Gifu forward Yuki Oshitani looking very much in the mood to put one over his former club. Goals were disallowed and woodwork rattled before a Gifu breakaway led to the opening goal, ten minutes into the second half.
Tatsuya Tanaka put on the burners to outpace the Okayama defence and forced ‘keeper Nakabayashi into bringing him down in the area. Evandro stepped up to slam the resulting penalty in to the bottom corner to give Gifu a narrow lead.
After that, it was a defensive stand – led by the outstanding Yoshinari Takagi. He made several key saves and catches, and organized the defence superbly to help Gifu leave with all three points.
JEF United Chiba 3-2 FC Gifu
If I’ve praised Gifu’s defence in the previous games, they have to take a bit of stick for this one. Two goals in the first ten minutes put paid to Gifu’s chances in this game, both the result of defensive slips (quite literally, in the case of Go Iwase in the build up to the second goal).
Gifu rallied in the second half, and Daiki Tamori – making his return from injury – headed in a cross in the 50th minute to give Gifu hope, but a goal from Chiba’s Kazuki Nagasawa looked to have extinguished that hope in the 84th minute. But Shun Nogaito’s exquisite through ball found Keiji Takachi to finish in the 86th minute to renew the belief, and substitute Ryo Takiya almost leveled it in injury time, but his headed came agonizingly off the bar.
Defensive frailties the undoing of Gifu again. An unfortunate side note to this game was the injury sustained by Shun Nogaito. He came off in injury time with what looked like a knee injury and was taped up and iced as he failed to return to the pitch.
Season stats – so far:
Top scorers – Bruno Suzuki & Koya Kazama (3 goals)
Top assists – Leo Mineiro (3 assists)
Most chances created – Leo Mineiro (16 chances created)
Most appearances – Leo Mineiro, Taisuke Mizuno, Masanori Abe (12 apps)
Most playing minutes – Taisuke Mizuno (1103 minutes)
Most shots – Leo Mineiro (29 shots)