As League One reaches its halfway point, a massive crowd turns out to see Yanbian Changbaishan being held by Qingdao Jonoon. Some new signings help Tianjin Songjiang sink Dalian Aerbin and Hebei are frustrated in Shenzhen. Harbin Yiteng and Beijing BG get back to winning ways and Qingdao Hainiu get shown what they’ve been missing.
Yanbian Changbaishan 0-0 Qingdao Jonoon
Jonoon held Yanbian to stay withing touching distance of the leaders at the season’s halfway stage. Prior to the game, both sides’ managers’ said they were aiming for three points in this one, but it was clear from the way the game was played that Jonoon’s Tomaz Kavcic is the one who was much happier with the draw.
Yanbian came into the match on a four game winning streak, but Steve, in his first game back from a four game ban, missed Yanbian’s best chance to extend that run when he failed to get a touch on a Jin Bo cross with the goal at his mercy.
The official attendance for this game was recorded as less than 29,000, but those in the ground believe it was much higher as there were very few vacant spaces in the 40,000 seat stadium. Either way, it is Yanbian’s biggest attendance in 16 years since they played a CFA Cup semi-final against Shandong Luneng back in 1999.
The huge turnout matches the buzz which is rightly encircling the club at the moment. A draw this may have been, but it preserved Yanbian’s unbeaten 2015 and saw the club record a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
The excitement was emphasised earlier in the week when the Shenzhen Funde Life Insurance Group pledged an investment of 80 million Yuan to develop youth football in Yanbian over the next three years. That may not have an obvious impact on the clubs fortunes this season but, interestingly, the agreement also gives Funde the right of first refusal on sponsorship and naming rights should Yanbian make it into the CSL within the duration of their contract.
It is clear that Funde see great potential in Yanbian and it’s easy to see why. After the match, their ever cautious manager Park Ta-hae stated that there are no prizes for being top halfway through the season. But with nine home games in their final fifteen, they may have already done the hard part.
Tianjin Songjiang 2-1 Dalian Aerbin
A significant contribution from a pair of debutantes helped give Songjiang their first home win of the season and pile the pressure on Dalian manager Mikael Stahre. Aerbin have picked up just four points from their last five games, although they still sit just three points behind the promotion places.
Zhang Shuo, who recently arrived on a half season loan from Guangzhou R&F, drew a penalty area hand ball from Dalian’s Shan Pengfei just two and a half minutes into his first appearance for Songjiang. Mario Lucio, returning from a two game suspension, scored the from the spot, but Bruno Meneghel levelled thing up midway through the first half with his eleventh of the season.
However, 4 minutes before the break, another new Songjiang signing made a huge impact. Franck Nouble pounced on Wang Jie’s saved shot to restore the home side’s lead and lift them out of the relegation zone for the first time since the beginning of May.
Shenzhen FC 1-1 Hebei CFFC
A 36th minute equaliser from Cai Jingyuan helped a modified Shenzhen side hold Hebei and stay just above the relegation zone at the halfway stage of the season. With Senegalese forward Andre Senghor suspended, manager Lee Lim-saeng dropped centre back Giuseppe Aquaro from his starting eleven and moved to a five man back line.
In the post-match press conference, Lee’s opposite number Radomir Antic suggested that Shenzhen had taken a conservative approach to the game, but the Serbian was lucky not to see his side reduced to ten men in the 17th minute when centre back Hao Shuang pulled back Babacar Gueye. Hao appeared to be the last man, but he was only shown a yellow card.
Gueye wasted the ensuing free kick and within minutes Nenad Milijas showed him how it was done when he scored his eleventh of the season with a dead ball of his own. Although, Gueye did get some measure of revenge later on when he assisted Cai’s leveller.
In the 62nd minute, Antic brought on Yan Tang who had been signed on a half season loan earlier in the week. The 26-year-old centre forward left Hebei for Portuguese club Mafra two summers ago and subsequently moved to Segunda Liga club S.C Farense from whom he has been borrowed.
Four goals in 21 appearances this season tells the story of a player who has hardly set the Portuguese second tier alight. However, standing at 1.96 metres (over 6′ 4), he offers an interesting atacking alternative moving forward.
Unfortunately for Hebei, Yan was unable to make an impact on the game and so they were couldn’t take advantage of the draw between Yanbian Changbaishan and Qingdao Jonoon to strengthen their position.
Beijing Institute of Technology 1-0 Jiangxi Liansheng
A 27th minute strike from Han Guanghui gave BIT a first win in eight and means they finish the first half of the season in the top ten. Jiangxi tried to launch a second half comeback, but the absences of top scorer Adi Rocha and midfielders Jaja and Wang Jianwen proved too much to overcome.
The defeat leaves the League Two champions rooted at the bottom of the table, two points adrift of safety. Unfortunately, ten of their matches in the second half of the season will be outside of Nanchang, making survival look increasingly difficult.
Hohhot Zhongyou 0-2 Beijing BG
Second half goals from Danko Lazovic and Godfrey Karikari gave BG a big win in Hohhot. Lazovic opened the scoring in the 53rd minute with a belting strike from 25 yards which rocketed into the top corner. Less than four minutes later, Karikari received a pass from Cui Zhongkai in the area and turned veteran centre back Jonas Salley before firing home from a tight angle.
Missing both Dori and Wang Yunlong, Hohoot offered little in the way of a reply and BG were able to comfortably close out the game. Results elsewhere mean that BG go into the second half of the season in fifth place and four points adrift of the promotion places. With rumours flying about a big foreign signing being made this summer, the prospect of playing 2016 in the Super League is not yet beyond them.
Harbin Yiteng 1-0 Hunan Billows
A penalty save from Bai Xiaolei and a goal from Han Xu gave Harbin victory in a tight game against Hunan.
In the 18th minute, Luis Carlos Cabezas looked to have given Hunan a breakthrough when he won a penalty. The Colombian was given the opportunity to convert the spot kick himself but was denied a first goal of the season when Bai Xiaolei saved his effort. Just seven minutes later, Ricardo Steel knocked down a Li Xin cross for Han Xu to put Harbin in the lead.
After the game, Duan Xin, who has returned to the helm at Harbin after a temporary absence, admitted his side had a tough game and praised Bai Xiaolei’s performance. He also thanked some of the 23,000 fans in attendance who held up a large banner depicting his image to celebrate his five years of involvement with the club.
It is a disappointing result for Hunan, who have slipped back into the relegation zone, but at least they can take heart from the fact that they have run both Harbin and Yanbian close in the last two weeks. Their current league position is not especially encouraging, but they have improved recently and should be too good in the second half of the season to drop down to League Two.
Guizhou Zhicheng 2-1 Xinjiang
Goals from Yves Ekwalla Herman in the 32nd and 89th minute bookmarked Song Xie’s 67th minute strike. The strikes were the Cameroonian’s seventh and eighth of the season and help Zhicheng climb above Xinjiang to eleventh in the table.
Just six points from ten away matches this season indicates Xinjiang’s woeful form on the road and helps explain why they are just two points above the relegation zone. The good news is that ten of their last fifteen games are in Urumqi where they remain unbeaten in 2015.
Qingdao Hainiu 1-1 Wuhan Zall
After failing to register for the first half of the season because of a wage dispute, Wang Xuanhong returned to the Hainiu squad and showed them what they were missing by equalising less than ten minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. Brice Jovial had scored his ninth of the season to give Wuhan the lead in the 54th minute, but Wang was introduced shortly after to deny Wuhan a first win in four attempts.
It’s a good result for Hainiu considering that manager Su Maozhen was suspended for the game, but it means Wuhan failed to capitalise on the top three clubs all drawing. In a desperate attempt to get the three points Wuhan threw seldom used centre back Qiu Tianyi up front in place of ineffective forward Rafa Jorda, but it was to no avail. Wuhan remain six points adrift of the promotion places with ten of their last fifteen games being away from home.