After last weekend’s relatively uneventful offerings, round five of the League One season gave fans plenty to talk about including Yanbian’s remarkable start, most of the promotion favourites dropping points, Shenzhen welcoming a new manager and Jiangxi finally picking up a win.
Beijing Institute of Technology 2-4 Yanbian Changbaishan
Yanbian’s remarkable start to the season continued as they took advantage of a first half BIT red card to stroll to a comfortable win in the capital. These sides managed to produce twelve goals in their two meetings last season and so it was no surprise when young Gambian forward Steve put the visitors ahead after just five minutes.
The university team’s afternoon took a further turn for the worse midway through the first half when midfielder Li Xiangbin was shown a straight red for a reckless challenge. However, they were able to hold out until just after the hour mark when Steve grabbed his second of the afternoon and fourth of the season to make himself League One’s joint top scorer. The 20-year-old, who is on loan from Hangzhou Greentown, continued to threaten and was soon brought down for a penalty which Jailton Paraiba converted on 67 minutes.
With a potential rout on the cards, BIT fought back bravely and pulled a goal back through Julio Gutierrez. Abel Nazario then cut the deficit to just one in the 88th minute, but Yanbian’s South Korean forward Ha Tae-goon was able to seal the win in injury time.
Both of these sides can be said to have over-achieved in the early season, but Yanbian’s performance is truly remarkable. This is their third victory of the year and means they have already won as many games in 2015 as they did throughout all of 2014. Last season, on their way to finishing bottom of the table, it took them eighteen games to reach the same points tally and this is made all the more astonishing by the fact that they had only found out they’d been readmitted to the second tier from League Two less than two months before the start of the season.
It’s quite clear that their late acquisitions of foreign stars Steve, Jailton Paraiba and Ha Tae-goon have made a significant difference. The trio, known by the politically incorrect moniker of Oreo thanks to a publicity photograph in Ha stood in the middle, have made a huge difference to Yanbian’s attack. However, credit must also go to new coach Park Tae-ha and the domestic players who have obviously raised their game. Yanbian’s second place status is unlikely to last the season, but with over 300 fans travelling to Beijing for this contest, there is a justifiable buzz around the boys from the Korean Autonomous Prefecture.
Shenzhen FC 1-1 Harbin Yiteng
A 60th minute Babacar Gueye penalty cancelled out Ricardo Steer’s strike on the stroke of half time to give Shenzhen’s new manager Lee Lim-saeng a decent result in his first league game in charge. On the Monday following last week’s 1-1 draw in Yanbian, the southern club announced that Li Yi was to replaced by the South Korean who has spent the last four seasons in charge of Singapore’s Home United.
Shenzhen fans may be disappointed to miss out on a first victory in 2015, but a point against the unbeaten Harbin is a far more respectable result than some of their more recent returns. For Yiteng, this game spells the end of five straight away matches (six including their CFA Cup defeat to League Two Anhui Litian) and, while they’ve drawn the last three, they can feel satisfied returning to their sufficiently thawed home base with their unbeaten league record in tact.
Jiangxi Liansheng 2-1 Tianjin Songjiang
Jiangxi finally got their first points of the season thanks, in part, to Wang Jianwen scoring straight from a corner in the 17th minute. The midfielder’s “strike” owed more to incompetent defending than devastating delivery, but it was still enough for Sina to publish their second Liansheng related highlight of the season following Adi Rocha’s long range heroics in round 2.
In the same poor conditions which blighted many League One games this weekend, Mario Lucio was able to equalise in the 41st minute thanks to an assist from the dangerous Li Xingcan. Thankfully for the less than 1,000 Liansheng fans in attendance, Jaja was upended in the penalty area six minutes into the second half allowing Adi Rocha to score from twelve yards and give Jiangxi their first ever League One victory.
The win lifts Liansheng off the bottom of the table, but the sparse attendance shows that a lot of damage may have already been done. Having been kept at home for their opening five games in order to avoid playing too many matches in Nanchang’s crippling summer heat, Liansheng’s return of three points is hardly enough for a team hoping to avoid relegation. While the weather may have been partly responsible for the sparsity of spectators, quite a few probably stayed away to avoid seeing their side tasting yet another defeat. This victory is a start, but if it’s not followed up on, 2015 may still be a very painful year for supporters in Jiangxi.
Qingdao Jonoon 0-0 Dalian Aerbin
Table-toppers Dalian were snuffed out by Jonoon in a drab game. Aerbin forward Bruno Meneghel, returning to the club he left in 2013, had one of the match’s best chances in the first half, but both sides had to settle for a point in a disappointing rematch of what was a top half Super League game just two years ago. The draw was enough to keep Dalian top on goal difference and does little to dispel the notion that Jonoon may be some way off promotion in 2015.
Hunan Billows 1-1 Beijing BG
Beijing’s quest for promotion continued to stutter as they dropped two more points against potential rivals. An assist from Danko Lazovic allowed Yan Xiangchuang to open the scoring in the 52nd minute, but a deflected shot from Cao Huan levelled things up just two minutes later.
Cao’s long range effort went through teammate Luis Carlos Cabezas’s legs before ricocheting off opposing defender Han Xuan on the way in. It’s unclear whether the ball touched the Colombian before striking Han and, at the time of writing, it’s still unknown who the CFA have awarded the goal to. Either way, the strike gives a Hunan side featuring yet another altered attacking line-up a well earned point against a BG team that is struggling for goals.
Wuhan Zall 1-1 Xinjiang
A Cristian Danalache strike five minutes from time was enough to give Xinjiang a point in their return to the province they relocated from in early 2014. Brice Jovial had given the home side the lead in the 13th minute with his second goal of the season, but Wuhan failed to make their early dominance pay and were duly punished when Danalache found himself in a pocket of space in the area.
The Romanian volleyed a low cross into the ground from about fifteen yards out and the bounce wrong footed Zall keeper Sun Shoubo who could only flap at the effort. It was Danalache’s fourth strike of the season and consigned Wuhan to a third consecutive home game without a win. Still, it marked a pleasant home coming for the numerous players who found themselves a long way from home in Urumqi when Hubei Huakaier moved to Xinjiang just before the beginning of last season.
Qingdao Hainiu 3-1 Guizhou Zhicheng
Hainiu won at home for the first time since June against a Zhicheng side still looking for their first victory of the season. The opening minutes saw Zhicheng’s Yves Ekwalla Herman go close with a free kick against the side who released him this winter and Hainiu’s Kim Seung-yong hit the bar with a dead ball effort of his own not long after. In the 13th minute, Serbian Goran Gogic headed Hainiu into the lead and any chance of Zhicheng rescuing something from the game was eliminated 18 minutes from the end when their main attacking threat Ilhamjan Iminjan was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Hainiu ran the score up late on with Dorde Rakic and Kim netting in the final few minutes before Zhicheng grabbed a consolation in injury time. The result drags Hainiu into the top half and sees Zhicheng sink to the foot of the table following Jiangxi’s win.
Hebei CFFC 1-0 Hohhot Zhongyou
After picking up their first win of the season last week against Hainiu in Qingdao, Hebei CFFC finally triumphed at home at the fourth time of asking. An 11th minute strike from Zhu Haiwei was enough to separate the sides as the big spenders from Qinhuangdao look like they are starting to get it together.
The win allowed Hebei to skip one point ahead of Hohhot in the table but, as the Inner Mongolians are yet to have a home game and CFFC have already played four matches on their own soil, it is still the newly promoted Zhongyou who are likely to be happiest with their early season showing.