Changchun Yatai earned a 1-0 win over Beijing Sport University and extended their unbeaten run to ten games, but the team must keep a level head with eight still to play.
Tan Long’s 41st-minute penalty, his 14th goal of the season, ensured the North-Eastern club didn’t experience a repeat of the 4-1 home loss suffered back in April.
This extended Changchun’s win streak to six, with the one-time CSL champions experiencing their best form of the season with just eight games remaining.
The strong string of games, which has seen the team pick up 24 points from a possible 30, has Changchun sitting atop the China League One table.
But thoughts of the title must be tempered with the margin for error still so tight.
Sitting in second place, just three points behind Changchun Yatai, are Guizhou Hengfeng – who also suffered relegation alongside the current league leaders last season.
Guizhou have maintained their position close to the top of the table for the majority of the season and are experiencing their own recent successes – with four wins in their last four games.
The biggest concern for Changchun is the fact that Guizhou has played one game fewer and could come level on points if their game-in-hand resulted in a win.
Qingdao Huanghai and Shijiazhuang Ever Bright, Changchun’s next opponents in the league, currently sit just one point behind Guizhou and Nei Mongol Zhongyou are just two points behind.
The race for the 2019 China League One title, as well as automatic promotion, will continue to be exceptionally tight with just eight games left this season.
If Changchun can pick up points against Shijiazhuang and Qingdao, they will have a legitimate shot at winning the title and returning to the Chinese Super League at the very first time of asking.
But any small lapse in effort or concentration could bring it all down and the disappointment will continue for a fanbase that has been given a real glimpse of hope after such a slow start to the season.