Real Mallorca, despite a hard-fought 1-1 draw away at Oviedo on Sunday lunchtime (the exact same score as when we last played them in Asturias 14 years ago), still remain rooted to the bottom of the Spanish Second Division.
I travelled on Saturday with the team and around 50 Mallorca fans and I have to say this was probably our best performance in a pretty indifferent start to the season. We dominated proceedings early doors and a half-hit Javier Ros shot after just seven minutes agonisingly trickled over the Oviedo goal line to put the visitors ahead with only their third goal of the season in 363 minutes of trying. A Majorcan lady fan sitting in front of us nearly fainted when that went in, shouting out “es un milagro” (it’s a miracle).
Oviedo came back strongly and after 25 minutes they began to get the upper hand. Then disaster struck for Mallorca in the 41st minute, German teenage ‘keeper Timon Wellenreuther raced from his goal in an attempt to clear a loose ball but Toche managed to toe-poke it into the empty net. The 14,000 crowd (more of them later) almost took the roof off when their favourites scored with a really soft goal, and the youngster will surely learn a lesson from this mistake. To equalise so near to half time meant that Mallorca would be up against it in the second half, but to their credit the islanders stuck to their guns, somehow managing to hold on for a draw.
The last 20 minutes was all Oviedo’s with Mallorca using any possible way to slow play down and use spoiling tactics. So much so that they received four yellow cards and we were very lucky not to have a player sent off. In all we gave away a staggering 24 free kicks, and I can’t remember a game with that many fouls being committed. It’s not nice to see all these time-wasting shenanigans, especially from Real Mallorca, and the local fans quite rightly were not happy with our play-acting antics.
The general feeling when we were on the plane flying up to Asturias airport on Saturday was anything but a defeat would be a good result. We showed signs of improvement on Sunday with Swiss/Portuguese Thierry Moutinho, goal scorer Javi Ros and Abdoul Sissoko having good games, but we still need more cut and thrust. Mallorca won the ball back on numerous occasions, but the only downside for me was the almost perpetual falling down by Italian striker Rolando Bianchi.
He stopped doing that after being booked for yet another dive but to his credit, apart from two clear chances, he did give a couple of lay offs which nearly reaped awards. Both teams missed scoreable chances so I suppose a draw was a fair outcome.
After the weekend’s results Mallorca, despite their playing probably their best football of the season, remain bottom. Many neutral pundits on Monday said they felt Mallorca were in a false position, especially with a favourable showing in Oviedo. Next Sunday at 5pm 18th placed Llogostera visit the Son Moix. They won 4-1 on Sunday and it’s a game we have to win at all costs. It’s time to get back up the league as we continue to improve.
Talking to the press afterwards, some of the players felt that after one of Mallorca’s better performances, things are beginning to come together. The coach seems nonplussed by criticism but deep down he knows being bottom of the Spanish second division is simply not good enough.
Again, as it was with Sporting Gijon last April, I witnessed a proper crowd in a proper football stadium. The home fans were terrific and the atmosphere something we’ve not seen and heard in Palma for many a long day. As for the travelling fans, some of them I’d never seen before and several don’t attend many home games. For some reason not all the Mallorca supporters sat in the same designated area which I found strange. Oviedo, considered to be the richest and cleanest city in Spain, was a wee bit disappointing. Historical yes, but it has to be the graffiti capital of Spain. The parts of the city we had time to see were full of high-rise, ugly apartment blocks and derelict buildings. But I did enjoy the local speciality, Fabada, bean stew with Spanish sausage, washed down with local cider – pure bliss !