A switch in roles for Kitchee captain Lo Kwan-yee proved successful as the champions kept the pressure on leaders South China in a 1-0 victory over Southern yesterday.
Lo headed home a 27th minute goal that proved to be the match winner as the Hong Kong international played out up front instead of his usual right back position at Aberdeen Sports Ground.
"I can't remember the last time I played up front before today, may be two or three years ago," said Lo.
"Jorge Tarres [Kitchee's top scorer] is suffering from tight leg muscles from our last match and needed a rest. I have proven to be very fit during training and perhaps that's why the coach gave me an attacking role. But the feeling is really good as I scored a goal that made the difference."
The champions enjoyed most of the possession on a chilly afternoon, winning more than 15 corner-kicks but their normal passing game was hampered by poor ground conditions. Yoga Gonzalez missed a couple of chances before he was replaced in the second half by fellow countryman Pablo Gonzalez, who also failed to impress.
"The pitch is hard and bumpy and it is very difficult to control the ball," said Lo. "Also, they had a lot of players in defence, making life very hard for us and in the end it wasn't too bad as we walked away with three points that we needed to keep ourselves in the title race."
Southern coach Fung Hoi-man said the result was acceptable but his team would need to improve their quality of attack if they are to survive relegation.
The Caroliners are leading the table with 30 points, one ahead of Kitchee and will need to beat Citizen at Mong Kok Stadium today to increase their advantage. Kitchee and South China are due to clash on April 14.