Former champions Happy Valley went four points clear at the top of the Hong Kong first division thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over 10-man Citizen at Mongkok Stadium yesterday. Capitalising on fellow title chasers Kitchee's shock 1-1 draw with cellar dwellers Hong Kong 08 on Saturday which did them no favours, Valley knew they couldn't afford a slip-up as the league championship entered its critical stage. And they started the ball rolling when a close-range header by Barnes Colly Ezeh in the 32nd minute put them 1-0 ahead before Poon Yiu-cheuk scored from the penalty spot in the 56th minute after Gerard Ambassa Guy was brought down in the box by defender Anthony Nyatepe, who was subsequently shown the red card. Citizen scored a late consolation goal in the 78th minute after Yaw Anane found the target with a header from close range, but Valley held on to secure three points as they look to regain the league title they last won two years ago. It was Valley's third straight victory as they began 2006 on a winning note, going four points clear of Kitchee, league champions Xiangxue Sun Hei and Buler Rangers, who all share second spot on 19 points from 10 games. League Cup champions Kitchee have the best goal difference of the trio despite their surprising result with Hong Kong 08, which gave the basement club their first point of the campaign. Despite their latest win, Happy Valley Wong Yiu-shun was far from happy. 'We created a lot of chances, but didn't put them away and Citizen scored a late goal and we only held on. 'It definitely wasn't easy, but I'll take the three points,' said Wong. 'I thought some of the youngsters today didn't show enough maturity and they were slow to really show their true form. Sham Kwok-keung and [brother] Kwok-fai were disappointing and I just hope they play better in the near future. Their form left a lot to be desired.'