Guangdong Sunray Cave 3 – 0 Tianjin Songjian
China League 1 (Round 24)
Dori 25, Li Jian 70, Awal 89
Guangdong Sunray Cave kept their promotion hopes alive with a deserved 3-0 win over a Tianjin Songjiang side who only came to life after the break.
It was a case of back to the future for Sunray Cave as their new home in Foshan is actually their original home from 2007. The pitch at the 36,000 seat Century Lotus Stadium was immaculate but the same couldn’t be said for the seats; due to a lack of use many were covered in dust. Four thousand fans turned up but the atmosphere, which mainly consisted of the noise of plastic air horns, was so poor that the big shout that ended the pregame Tianjin huddle was easily audible from the stands.
Both teams lined up with 4-4-2 formations but the Cantonese side were much brighter in the first half as Tianjin could only muster two long range shots which both were both off target. In contrast Sunray Cave had a great chance after only 10 minutes when Wang Qiang was played through but Tianjin keeper Shi Meng came quickly off his line to smother Wang’s shot.
The pace of the Sunray Cave strikers was causing problems for the Tianjin defence who had a let off when Liu Tao headed over and then Mahama Awal, in his fifth season with Sunray Cave, was a little over ambitious with his overhead kick. The breakthrough the Cantonese had been looking for finally arrived after 25 minutes. Midfielder Wang ran into the open space in front of the Tianjin back four and slid a pass through for Brazilian striker Dori who chipped Shi Meng to open the scoring.
Tianjin improved in the second half and registered their first shot on target as they went in search of an equaliser but Jiang Jihong’s shot was weak and easily saved by Luo Zuqing. As the northerners began to make a game of it the rain came down and the fans moved up the stand and eventually all the way to the upper tier to find shelter from the sudden downpour. The players, none of whom had a pair of plain black boots on, continued though and Sunray Cave reasserted their dominance by doubling their lead.
Tianjin didn’t clear properly after a Sunray Cave attack down the right, the ball was played back into the box and Li Jian beat the offside trap to score. The northerners felt aggrieved by this and the linesman was surrounded with protesting players including the goalkeeper.
The match opened up after this as Tianjin tried to get back into the game and Sunray Cave continued attacking. Jiang threated with a header from a corner but at the other end Dori waited too long and wasted a glorious chance as he allowed current Tianjin and ex-Hong Kong captain Ng Wai Chiu to get back and make a vital block.
Tianjin continued to press and Sunray Cave were increasingly happy to play on the counter and should have scored a third when Li Jian passed to an unmarked Dori but the Brazilian failed to make any contact with the ball at all with an empty goal at his mercy. His striker partner Awal spared his blushes though as he made the points safe with a late goal from a corner. The Tianjin defence failed to deal with the floated cross which Awal pounced on and volleyed past Shi and into the goal.
The result keeps Sunray Cave’s 100% record at their new stadium intact and also keeps them in the chase for promotion to the CSL as they are only two points behind second place Harbin Yicheng with six games to play.
Elsewhere in China League One
Leaders Henan Construction could only manage a draw against Beijing Institute of Technology but second place Harbin Yicheng failed to take advantage as they lost 2-1 at home to Chongqing Lifan who themselves remain in the hunt for promotion.
At the other end of the table, bottom placed Chengdu Blades lost at home to Shenyang North while second bottom Chongqing FC managed a draw against Yanbian White Tiger. Hubei Kyle pulled four points clear of the relegation zone with a 3-1 win against Guizhou Zhicheng who are now only one point above the drop zone.