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League One Round 6 Preview: Road Warriors Return Home and a Derby in Wuhan

After spending the five games on the road, Xinjiang, Hohhot and Harbin all return to home in a round 6 which also sees a pair of local-(ish) derbys.

Xinjiang vs Yanbian Changbaishan

Yanbian striker Steve celebrates scoring against BIT.

Yanbian striker Steve celebrates scoring against BIT.

Yanbian go into this game with an exceptional five game unbeaten record, but must make a long trip to Urumqi to take on a Xinjiang side acting as hosts for the first time in 2015. Xinjiang have conceded a league high ten goals this year while Yanbian have managed to bang in nine of their own in a run that has included four away games.

Form would give Yanbian the victory, but the home field advantage gives Xinjiang a boost. All that considered, a high scoring draw looks the most reasonable prospect. Prediction – 2:2

Hohhot Zhongyou vs Guizhou Zhicheng

Back in 2014, when they were Taiyuan Zhongyou of Shanxi province, Hohhot gained promotion to League One at Zhicheng’s expense by defeating them in a two-legged semi-final on penalties. While there was little to separate the sides over two drawn games, Zhongyou had the whole winter to prepare for League One, whereas Zhicheng had a little over two weeks.

Form over the first five games demonstrates the obvious effect this has had and Zhicheng travel to Hohhot as the away team in the Inner Mongolian city’s first professional football game since Zhongjin FC were relegated from League One in 2012. Zhongyou are unlikely to disappoint their fans and a comfortable, if not emphatic, home win should be expected. Prediction – 2:0

Harbin Yiteng vs Beijing Institute of Technology

BIT's Li Xiangbin was red carded in the first half of last week's game against Yanbian

BIT’s Li Xiangbin was red carded in the first half of last week’s game against Yanbian

Had this game been played last week, BIT might have been considered reasonable candidates for a draw, but their comprehensive defeat at the hands of Yanbian exposed old failings which are likely to be further exploited in Harbin’s game of the season in front of their passionate fans.

Among non-relegated sides, BIT conceded a league high 57 goals last season, but looked to have fixed that problem until they let in four at home this past week. To be fair to BIT, they did have a man sent off mid-way through the first half, but they are travelling to the Ice City to take on a side that has managed a league high ten goals in 2015.

To make matters worse, Harbin have won the last four games between these clubs and have scored five in each of their last two home fixtures with BIT. The Beijingers may struggle to hang with last season’s Super League relegatees and so a hammering looks like it might be on the cards. Prediction – 4:1

Rare Sight: Wuhan celebrating a goal in 2015

Rare Sight: Wuhan celebrating a goal in 2015

Wuhan Zall vs Hunan Billows

This is as close as Zall and Billows get to a local derby and it should be interesting to see how this central China showdown turns out. Wuhan enter the game on the back of three consecutive draws, while Billows’ potentially deadly attack has only managed three goals in five games. Zall have scored the same amount while also only conceding three, so a high scoring game is not to be expected.

Neither side has scored more than one goal in a game this season and that is unlikely to change. However, Wuhan should just have enough to edge the contest. Prediction – 1:0

Dalian Aerbin vs Jiangxi Liansheng

League One is unpredictable at the best of times but if ever a game smacked of an obvious outcome it would be this one. It’s top versus second from bottom and features a team which has won three out of three home matches hosting a team taking to the road for the first time in 2015.

The league leaders have conceded only one goal all season and, barring some kind of miracle, Jiangxi will be unable to break Dalian down. It should be a comfortable win for the northeast side and anything less than an easy cruise will be seen as a surprise. Prediction – 3:0

Beijing BG vs Qingdao Jonoon

Jonoon's fans will be hoping for a win in Beijing

Jonoon’s fans will be hoping for a win in Beijing

On paper this should be a good game as one of the teams relegated from 2013’s Super League takes on one of 2015’s favourites for promotion. Unfortunately, neither side has caught fire this year, although BG have done enough to show that they are marginally the better team.

The capital side have conceded just two goals this season, but have also failed to sparkle in the attacking third. They should be just too good for Jonoon – but only just. Prediction – 1:0

Tianjin Songjiang vs Hebei CFFC

This is a local derby of sorts between two sides in differing form. While the big spending visitors come into the clash following back-to-back 1-0 wins, Songjiang have managed just one point in their last three contests.

That being said, Tianjin’s only win of the season was away to Wuhan, demonstrating that they can compete with top half sides. Considering that, a Hebei win shouldn’t be taken for granted and wise money might be on the defensively stubborn home side claiming a draw. Prediction – 1:1

Qingdao Hainiu vs Shenzhen FC

Last season, both match-ups between these teams ended in a tie and, considering the fact that Shenzhen have drawn four out of five in 2015, this game looks likely to end the same way. On paper, Hainiu appear to be doing well as they have won two out of their last three. However, those victories came against Jiangxi Liansheng and Guizhou Zhicheng who have amassed five points between them this year.

After replacing head coach Li Yi with South Korean Lee Lim-saeng last week, Shenzhen rehired Li as a “technical director” this past Monday. This suggests that changes in the southeast may not be of great significance and so the visitors may continue to struggle. However, as long as Shenzhen have Babacar Gueye they have a chance, making a fifth draw in six a possibility. Prediction – 1:1

 

Based in China for five years, Jamie has been exploring tiny little third tier Hubei cities without football teams or decent internet connections, but is now a regular at China League One side Wuhan Zall. A keen football afficionado, he regularly takes in the Chinese Super League, enjoying matches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing. Jamie is also a keen observer of the fortunes of the Chinese National side.

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