Last weekend, R&F held at home, while Southern and Eastern failed to make ground as the title race seems to be at its most competitive in years. It was the last Premier League round of this year, which means R&F will stay on top until 2019.
Round 8 began with a table top-clash between leaders R&F and third-placed Southern at Yanzigang Stadium on Saturday afternoon, December 8th. Southern started the stronger with Dhiego Martins striking the woodwork within the first few minutes as well as testing Zhou Yuchen in the home goal. It was R&F, however, who took the lead on 17 minutes as Tiago de Leonco’s rebounded effort deflected in off Southern’s Lau Hok-ming for 1-0. The Aberdeeners fought back and equalised before the break, as Martins made no mistake when presented with a good chance to level the game at 1-1. Both sides pressed for a winner in the second half, with Tan Chun-lok and Tiago de Leonco going close for R&F, while James Ha and Milos Krasic could have taken the points for Southern.
At the same time, Tai Po saw off Lee Man thanks to a first half double by Philip Chan Siu-kwan. The Greens were in front after just six minutes as tricky work down the left by Igor Sartori set up the chance for Chan to give his side the best possible start. Ten minutes before half time, it was a repeat set of circumstances that gave Tai Po a two-goal lead. Sartori again caused big problems down the Lee Man right, setting up Chan to score. Lee Man came out for the second half with more spirit and within five minutes had found a way back into the match. Baek Ji-moon smashed home after his initial effort was charged down. However, Tai Po managed to survive the ensuing onslaught from the Bees and held on to the three points, which saw them climb two places to fourth.
Saturday’s final game presented Eastern with a glorious opportunity to top the table and open up a five point gap over title holders Kitchee. Their opponents Pegasus, however, didn’t read the script and took the lead on twelve minutes through Travis Major who buried a Walter Soares Junior, aka Juninho, centre. Pegasus had the better of the first half and could have extended their lead as the Junior proved a constant threat. Eastern came out for the second half with more urgency and found an equaliser through Everton Camargo, who turned in a Wong Tsz-ho cross. But as the game drifted towards a draw, it was the Flying Horsemen who rode off with the points. Shu Sasaki found the net in the last minute, following good work from Mahama Awal. Eastern had no time to recover and so found themselves losing at their new home of Hong Kong Stadium for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, Hoi King took their first point of the season in Sunday’s solitary game at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground against Yuen Long. Cleiton proved to be the Tangerines best outlet, having a shot cleared off the line in the first half, while Harima Hirokane had the home side’s best effort on the hour mark, but neither side could find a winner in a game edged by the away side.
The match between Kitchee and Dreams has been postponed to December 29th.
This means R&F retain their spot at the top and will stay their over Christmas before the league resumes just before the new year. The coming weekend will offer the second round of Sapling Cup group games.
R&F 1-1 Southern (December 8th, 2:30pm, Yanzigang Stadium; Attendance: 781)
Tai Po 2-1 Lee Man (December 8th, 2:30pm, Tai Po Sports Ground; Attendance: 653)
Eastern 1-2 Pegasus (December 8th, 5:30pm, Hong Kong Stadium; Attendance: 1,084)
Hoi King 0-0 Yuen Long (December 9th, 2:30pm, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground; Attendance: 483)