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Sloppy East Asia throw away victory after set piece horror show

Another week, another blown opportunity for Shanghai East Asia to give themselves breathing space at the top of China League One. The visit of bottom-of-the-league Beijing Baxy should  have been a manageable hurdle for the league leaders but instead the home side squandered the lead on two separate occasions and will be wondering how they let another three valuable points get away.

Shanghai East Asia, knowing that they could extend their lead to six points after second place Hunan Xiangtao drew 0-0 away to Tianjin Songjiang, went at their guests with real aggression in the opening few minutes of the match. Lv Wenjun, Wu Lei and Zhen Zhengrong all went close early on and a clearly flustered away side seemed to be struggling to keep control of the situation.

Having huffed and puffed, East Asia finally went into the lead via an unlikely source when Ransford Addo was in the right place at the right time to spectacularly backheel Zhen’s thirty-second minute corner into the net.

It was the Ghanaian’s first goal for the club and one that helped his side ease into the halftime break with the lead and looking seemingly in complete control.

The onslaught continued after the break when first Zhen and then Wu came painfully close to doubling the East Asia lead only for the side netting or the frame of the goal to intervene in proceedings.

Yet having looked so comfortable, the home side suddenly began to come unstuck at the worst possible time. With Bruno Camacho off the pitch following an injury, East Asia’s back line seemed somewhat disjointed and with the readjusted defence still trying to get on the same page, Cui Zhongkai got infront of his marker during a corner and forced his header past a scrambling Yan Junling.

Stunned back into life, East Asia were back in the lead two minutes later when Lv dispatched a twenty-five yard freekick and that should have been the end of the Baxy fightback.

However the team from the capital, having already scored once, never gave up and with only two minutes left in normal time, made it 2-2 when Li Zhichao equalized from a corner in what was a carbon copy of the first goal.

It was a humiliating way to end a game that started so promisingly for the hosts. With nine games left, the red part of Shanghai should have had their promotion place signed, sealed and delivered by now but instead, they will probably have to fight right up to the last day of the season.

In other CL1 results, Wuhan Zull played out a close 2-1 home victory against Shenzhen Ruby. Meanwhile in the far north, Harbin Yiteng and Chongqing Lifan played out a 4-3 thriller whilst Hohhot Dongjin climbed out the relegation zone after beating Shenyang Shenbei, 2-0.

A passionate fan of the beautiful game, Andrew Crawford has lived a somewhat nomadic existance for the last few years that has involved stays in various corners of Africa, Asia and Europe. His most treasured footballing experiences are watching Hibernian beat Celtic 3-2 in front of a packed Easter Road during his university days and his time as the content writer for Nairobi City Stars, a Nairobi-based team based in the Kawangare slums who play in the Kenyan Premier League.

A football polygamist, he always keeps an eye on the fortunes of the various teams who’ve stole his heart during his childhood and then subsequent manhood; Cambridge United, Ryman League’s finest, Bury Town, Hibernian and Nairobi City Stars. Though recently arrived in Shanghai, he has already become addicted to the atmosphere at the Honkou and looks forward to watching his new team at every chance he gets.

He is also runs and writes for sharkfinhoops.com, the only English-speaking website about the fortunes of the Shanghai Sharks basketball team. You should check that out as well.

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