Real Mallorca ended their five-game winless streak with a 1-0 win against Madrid side Alcorcon on Saturday night. A penalty kick 15 minutes from the end, confidently dispatched by Michael Pereira, saw Real Mallorca climb out of the relegation bottom four in front of 9,000 fans.
Pereira had come on in the 58th minute for Coro, who had a nightmare of a game leading the front line. Coro and Acuña were our strike force in a 4-4-2 formation but neither of them looked likely to break the deadlock, although Acuña did come close on a couple of occasions. Returning coach Fernando Vazquez got off to the best possible start with this win and his inspired substitutions of Pereira and Mountinho proved to be match winning. The latter has undoubted class and when he came on seconds after Pereira the game changed for the better. Alcorcon full back Nelson was beaten time and time again by Moutinho’s trickery, eventually fouling the Mallorca player inside the area under the referee’s nose. He pointed to the spot and there was no argument from Alcorcon as Pereira calmly slotted home what turned out to be the winner. It was a real pressure kick, many fans (including me) couldn’t look, but the loud cheer meant he hadn’t failed.
Not long after that Alcorcon broke forward at pace and a goal-bound effort from La Segunda’s second highest scorer David Rodriguez saw our German goalkeeper, 19-year-old Timon Wellenreuther, bring off a wonder save to keep our clean sheet intact. The relief and joy of our players and the bench after the game finished was palpable.
There was much more of a buzz from the crowd when we all filed out of the Son Moix on Saturday night as most fans were describing the game as “mal partido” but “mejor resultado”. We actually played better in our 1-0 defeat against Valladolid last week but there was a notable difference in the fact we looked much more resolute and better organised. However, having said that, Vazquez has a lot of work to do on the training ground this week to galvanise his side following Saturday’s narrow win. Strikers Coro and Acuña appeared to be like rabbits blinded by a tightly-packed visiting defence in what was another frustrating tale of woe in front of goal. We know what we need upfront but it’s very difficult to find it and it’s not going to be easy to get a top goalscorer, as the Spanish transfer window shuts on Friday at midnight.
It’s not many times the crowd leave the Son Moix more exhausted than the players but on Saturday it was a draining experience. Neither side looked likely to create a meaningful chance early doors but when Vazquez made the necessary substitutions the game suddenly fizzed into life. Forget the fact that the football wasn’t top drawer, we stopped our losing run albeit from a penalty: it’s still three golden points.
Next Sunday night’s game away at Ponferradina (in the Spanish region of Leon) has added significance. At the moment they are three points ahead of us, and if we win at the El Toralin, followed by a home victory against bottom club Bilbao Atletic at the Son Moix on 31 January at 5 pm, our season could well take a turn for the better.
At the post-match press conference, a happy Vazquez didn’t allow the euphoria to overtake him. “Ten victories are necessary for salvation and today we obtained the first. There was a lot of tension from us and it’s not easy to play in these situations. My idea is to keep a clean sheet at the back. We succeeded in doing that and took the advantage of scoring the penalty.” The Galician coach also noted that his team has “much room for improvement” and he believes his players “can do much better”.
“Today was a victory the team needed for the players, the fans and the club. It was important to start this new stage like this, to break the dynamic and to face the future with more optimism – there’s still a lot to improve on.” Asked about players, especially strikers, coming in, Vazquez hinted: “We will be reinforced this week for sure. I’m feeling very happy to be at Mallorca again and I felt comfortable in the technical area.” When questioned about being so unusually restrained on the bench, he joked that he had done it on purpose.
An improved and extended contract renewal which has been made available to Brandon Thomas has been rejected by the player and his agent. It’s reported chief executive Maheta Molango offered a deal over and above what a player of his age would normally be receiving and Molango is not happy about the outcome as talks have reached an impasse. Watch this space.