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Recap: Ansan Mugunghwa 1 - 0 Seoul E-Land

Jung Da-hwon's strike was the difference between the two sides 
Ansan stretched their lead over E-Land to seven points by taking all three points from a very close encounter at the Wa~ on Saturday and remain top of the table having won six out of seven matches so far this season. Thanks to results elsewhere E-Land have slipped down the table to fifth after this round which just goes to show how tight things are, and no doubt will continue to be, in this league.

Losing the match has to be a disappointment for all involved at E-Land, especially since it was their first defeat of the season, but there were still positives to take out of the match. Over the course of the season you have to lose sometimes and they weren't outplayed or outfought in this one. A good strike from Jung Da-hwon was the difference between the two sides but it could easily have ended 0-0. A bit of fortune gave Ansan the win and results like that aren't as sore to take as draws against the likes of Goyang and Chungju - games that really should have been won.

The Ansan game was definitely a good test and half a dozen games into the season things are starting to shape up and I think we can probably make a judgement on some of the positive and negative trends appearing so far which were reinforced by this match. So what have we learned so far?

1. Ansan are a good side

Last season Ansan were stuffy and hard to beat but lacked any real killer threat and weren't good enough going forward to really challenge for the title, This season they seem stronger still and appear to have fixed the goalscoring issues too. They're going to be serious contenders this time around. It's a pity that that crowds don't seem that interested in their team. The stands on Saturday were empty and even the official attendance of 644 seems inflated

2. E-Land have a pretty solid defence

E-Land conceded too many goals last season and that was one of the key reasons for them not finishing higher up the table. This year the backline looks much much stronger. Mitchell seems to be coming into his own and is more dominant this year than last. With Kim Dong-chul next to him and Lee Jae-hun and Lee Kyu-ro at fullbacks they looked very comfortable indeed. Add Glory into the mix and you have a very capable unit. Those five too me seem to be the strongest backline available and I'd like to see Rennie stick with that for a few matches. It was a pity Kyu-ro went off at half-time as, to be honest, I'm not a fan of Kim Tae-eun at all.

3. The midfield are struggling

Taking Cho Won-hee out of the middle of the park seems to have really created a fairly big hole that hasn't really been filled. The midfield was probably the strongest part of the team in 2015 and it now seems to be the weakest. Chopping and changing the lineup probably isn't helping but none of the personnel so far tried seem to be the answer. It also seems to be having an effect on Kim Jae-sung who is perhaps being asked to do to much to compensate. The other two in the three were Yoon Sung-yeul and Jeon Min-gwang who I felt were fairly anonymous. Strangely, in the close season we signed a number of midfielders including Kim Jae-yeon, Kim Jun-tae and Choi Chi-won none of whom have yet featured in the side.

4. Joo Min-kyu isn't quite golden-balls anymore

Last season everything Joo touched turned to goals for a spell but it seems some of the magic has gone. His form at the end of last season wasn't all that hot and he's started this one the same. It's not that he's doing badly but, whether it's just confidence or that rub of the green that's missing, the goals aren't just coming right now. He was a game changer on a number of occasions last season so hopefully he can get back to that form as he's the kind of player that can make a huge difference and turn draws into wins

5. There's not a lot of depth in the squad

When things aren't quite going to plan you'd like to think that there were options to make a difference in matches that could mix things up a bit. For all his flaws, Ryan Johnson, for example, was that kind of option last season. This season there really isn't all that much to call upon and its interesting that we haven't really seen the subs make all that much difference apart from in the cup game where some of the big guns had been kept back as reinforcements. You get the feeling if Plan A isn't working then there really isn't much of a Plan B. There's only really Ahn Tae-hyun that you feel might make a difference as a sub and it's a big ask of a young guy to go on and change a match.

6. We're still missing a foreign player

It might partially explain some of point 5 above but I'm reminded that we still only have 3 foreign players in the squad whenever I look at the bench and I'm holding out hope that we have someone lined up for the Summer (and that it's not the ubiquitous diddy Brazilian). Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I'm hoping that we might see someone from Europe come in when the season there finishes as that would explain why we have held off in filling the fourth slot. Could we see someone from England or Scotland come across? Fingers crossed. We really could do with a box-to-box midfielder who can create something for the front guys to work with and take some of the weight off Jae-sung's shoulders. Either that or a big, strong centre-forward who can provide a different option up front.



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