R&F fell to their second defeat in as many games in the league as Southern outplayed the visitors to win 3-1. The 379 spectators who made an effort to come to the game were gifted with shelter from the sun as the main stand of the Aberdeen Sports Ground was reopened for the first time this season since its damage taken from the recent typhoons. Jacob Panons reports.
Southern started the game strongly, peppering the R&F box with crosses. The Aberdeeners looked as if they were going to break the deadlock 11 minutes in when Wellingsson held the ball in the corner and timed his pass across the box to Michael Luk, who touched the ball towards goal only to be denied by the near post.
Southern finally managed to pull ahead 20 minutes in when a superb corner from set piece specialist Luk met Wellingsson 6 yards out, who flicked the ball onto the underside of the crossbar with his head and into the goal to put the home side 1-0 up.
As the game continued, R&F rarely attempted to attack and filled their own half with white shirts in an attempt to outnumber the home side and to stage a possible counter attack, and it looked as if their emphasis on defending might have paid off when Southern were caught out at the back. Zi Yi Yang gathered the ball from Bruninho on the left and cut in onto his right to bend the ball up and over Southern goalkeeper Tak Him-tse, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
The Aberdeeners managed to double their lead in the 32nd minute, with Marcos de la Espada showing his skill and ability to volley the ball on the turn via a throw in down by the corner flag to deliver a cross down into Wellingsson, who doubled his own tally with another well executed header into the back of the net.
Espada was back in the spotlight once again minutes later when the Spaniard was struck in the face from a right hook by Chinese defender, Hou Junjie, following a slightly late side tackle from the former Kitchee attacker. Hou was presented a red card despite protest, leaving R&F with ten men and could now face a lengthy ban, while Espada also picked up a yellow card for his challenge.
Being a man down didn’t seem to knock R&F’s spirit and Marko Perovic produced a nice piece of passing play on the outside of the box that resulted in a shot from 25 yards out, ricocheting off the post.
Espada sparked controversy once again after the second half restart with a confrontation with R&F defender and Hong Kong national Vas Nunez, with the confrontation resulting in Nunez leaning into Espada resulting him to fall. Both Espada and Nunez were lucky to leave the situation without a second yellow card.
Despite the continuous push from R&F to bring a goal back, Southern appeared hesitant to attack and increase their own lead. Southern’s lack of attacking output resulted in the Aberdeeners continuously pumping the ball up the pitch only for it to be ran down by R&F back into the home side’s box.
This attacking hesitation and lack of options up front from Southern resulted in R&F gaining a goal back in stoppage time. A well placed corner was whipped into the box and a stagnant Southern defence were helpless as former Sporting Lisbon youth player, Li Rui, glanced a header into the far corner to make it 2:1.
Southern gathered the ball with moments to play before the final whistle as a well worked passing piece of play down the left resulted in the James Ha passing the ball into space for Espada to run into and calmly slot the ball into the far corner with a first time shot, sealing a hard-fought 3-1 victory for Southern.