A solid Nantong Zhiyun win away in Shanghai, their third straight league win, will leave a bitter taste for Sunfun who will rue their back of bite in the final third.
CHINA LEAGUE TWO
Shanghai Sunfun 0
Nantong Zhiyun 2
Hu Ming 38′
Wang Si 81′
One of Sunfun’s two wins in the league this season came in the April away fixture to Nantong Zhiyun but they retained their underdog status in this match due to their only victories at home thus far coming in the CFA cup.
That status looked to be confirmed as Sunfun were under siege immediately – Dong Guangxiang in goal was at full stretch clearing a looping header from Li Xiangbin off his line. But Sunfun looked a more composed side than other recent performances and were calmer in their build up forcing several corners in the opening ten minutes.
Most of these corners were easily dealt with by the Nantong defense, but soon enough one snuck through the crowd of bodies at waist height and struck the arm of a defender. Shang Yin stepped up to take the spot kick and watched in horror as it rebounded off the woodwork and out to the feet of his teammate Lai Jin, who spooned his follow up over the open goal.
It was business as usual as the home side looked sapped of their early confidence and were secodn best for long periods of the half. It would take until the 38th minute for Sunfun to be truly punished, when Nantong captain, Hu Ming, was found waiting at the back post by a tidy through ball with a simple chance to equalize.
Despite his earlier discretion, Shang Yin had been dangerous, but Sunfun needed a bit more bite and brought on his usual partner in crime, Wu Changqi at the top of the tree. It did not much to change the flow of the match however and it was the opposition’s target man, Wang Si, who was playing that role with more influence.
Nantong took control in the early stages of the half, playing short passes around the box and keeping the Sunfun defence on their toes. For brief periods of possession Sunfun also followed suit, creating a tense battle for space but not really the clear chances to score that Sunfun needed.
Sunfun’s roaming box to box everpresent, Liu Shuai was a standout with his delivery, especially lofted balls that were hitting the feet of the wingers as Sunfun pushed forward for the equalizer. Shang Yin was often the recipient and was able to flick occasional crosses to a lone Wu Changqi, who spurned almost all of his headed chances just wide of the far post.
As is standard in matches at this end of CL2, the last 20 mins opened up as both teams threw caution to the wind. But Nantong stood firm, as they pushed back in numbers and quickly into an expanded attacking formation that often left Sunfun reeling on the counter. The visitors had the best of the chances and after having just hit a point blank shot straight at Dong Guangxiang, Nantong recovered possession and after some great touches along the right byline, crossed for Wang Si to tap in and kill of the match as a contest.
Sunfun need to start picking up some points soon or risk relegation from the professional leagues, and they are unlikely to any this week as they travel to 4th Place Jiangxi Liangsheng. Nantong’s win consolidates them in midtable with the approaching visit of division leaders Shenzhen Ledman to put their three match winning streak under intense pressure.
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