Real Mallorca’s wretched away form (only one win on the road in nine months) continued in Los Pajaritos stadium against Numancia on Sunday night when the home team won at a canter 2-0, their first home win since November. Ex-Mallorca player, 34-year-old, twinkle-toed Julio Alvarez did the damage, scoring from a dubious 18th minute penalty and a brilliantly executed free kick in the 68th minute. To make matters worse for Mallorca, besides spending 90 minutes running around like headless chickens, Michael Pereira broke his cheek bone in the first half. He carried on valiantly until half time to be replaced by Diogo Salomao. Playing through the pain barrier, Pereira showed he had more balls than the Chinese ping-pong team and spent the night under observation in a Soria clinic before returning to Palma today.
Without the suspended Hector Yuste and Abdoul Sissoko pulling the strings in midfield, our very young, makeshift duo of Kasim Adams and Damia Sabater were an unmitigated disaster. Young Ghanaian Kasim is a raw kid still learning the game but I’m afraid he’s simply not good enough at the moment to play for the first team. I lost count of the number of balls he gave away and fouls he committed. His job was to mark will-o-the-wisp Alvarez, and the only way Kasim could stop him was by perpetually fouling. Eventually, Kasim’s name went into the referee’s black book and he was lucky to stay on the pitch. Numancia ran the game from start to finish and they went ahead in the 18th minute. Mallorca centre half David Costas was alleged to have manhandled Medina in the area and the referee pointed to the spot, booking Costas for his vituperative reaction. In the last minute of the half, Mallorca forced three corners in a row, all of which came to nothing, as the islanders trooped off at the break after one of the worst forty-five minutes we’ve played this season.
New signings Lago Junior and Alfredo Ortuño hardly saw the ball and the latter, who was our lone striker, was a passenger until Brandon came on for him in the second period; he also failed to make any impact. Alvarez was being hacked down left, right and centre, and we had no idea how to control his darting runs and dancing feet. In the 66th minute he took another tumble, this time just outside the D. He put the ball down, took two steps and curled a beauty into Cabrero’s top left-hand corner. The keeper had no chance: 2-0, game well and truly over. Cabrero was probably the only Mallorca player to come out of Sunday’s game with any credit. Then unbelievably in the 90th minute Mallorca had their one and only shot on target. Salomao’s snap effort was pushed round the post by Munir. Just after the corner came over the referee blew for time, putting Real Mallorca and their telly-viewing fans out of their misery.
Sometimes when I sit down to compile this column after a Mallorca game, I pretty much know what I’m going to write. But after Sunday's game even I was stuck for words to describe this debacle from a Mallorca fan’s viewpoint. Spanish words like “malo” and “malisimo” were echoing round my usual peña bar at full time. I started writing this at 11 pm on Sunday night and I’m sure if we’d still been playing at that time, Real Mallorca still wouldn’t be anywhere near scoring a goal. Yes, we were short of regular players in midfield but let’s not forget our squad is meant to be one of La Segunda’s strongest. This wasn’t what the new owners would have wanted or expected. We were bereft of ideas, without a midfield who could pass a ball to a team-mate, and had no reaction after going behind to the softest of penalties.
It may have been Valentine’s Day on Sunday but there was no love lost between Numancia fans and our new signing Oscar Diaz. He was their leading goalscorer up until two weeks ago and left the Soria team because Mallorca made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Every time he touched the ball, he received a crescendo of boos and shouts of “mercenario” in what was a pretty intimidating atmosphere. One consolation for Mallorca is that they’re still just a point above the relegation trap door bottom four with a tricky home game at 6pm next Saturday against revelation team, fourth top Nastic Tarragona. Mallorca should be back to almost full strength by then but will have to play an awful lot better against high-flying opponents.
Fernando Vazquez, who looked shell-shocked at the after-game press conference, said it was a horrible game as far as he and the team were concerned. “Numancia were far superior than us and they deserved to win.” He has a lot of work to do on the Son Bibiloni training ground this week because, quite frankly, on Sunday we were shocking.