Vazquez struggling to find winning formation.

20-02-2016Miquel A. Borras

Real Mallorca salvaged a point against fifth top Nastic Tarragona (a team who came up last year after three seasons in Segunda B), helped no end by a lenient referee who awarded us two penalties (one missed, one scored) in a 2-2 draw on Saturday night in what was almost another fiasco in our interminable fight for survival. The first 45 minutes were total purgatory for local fans. The home side looked woefully out of touch, hardly able to string two passes together and it was no surprise they went in at the break two goals down.

Nastic looked much stronger than us, certainly they were physically bigger, and with the Cameroonian Colossus, Achille Emana, playing upfront and leading our defence a merry dance, they always looked a threat. The ex-Betis player caused havoc every time he got the ball and was involved in the visitors opener after 21 minutes. He passed for Mossa who rattled in a screamer from the edge of the area past a helpless Cabrero. By this time local fans were getting restless with our lack of effort and in the 37th minute things got even worse. From a corner kick (what is it with Real Mallorca conceding from corners?), our defence failed to clear the ball and it fell kindly for Naranjo and his header went in past a flat-footed defence.

Half time came and there were unprecedented scenes from disgruntled fans at the break. Out came the white hankies waved along with a cacophony of boos. I even witnessed several so-called supporters leaving at half time. What I didn’t like at all was the treatment meted out to club president Utz Claassen as he walked down the steps from the palco to the hospitality lounge. He ran the gauntlet of the fans’ frustrations. He had just come back from a serious illness after spending a month in bed. He also saved Real Mallorca from going out of business and I’m afraid those fans giving him grief were out of order and have very short memories.

I have no idea what coach Fernando Vazquez told his players at half time but the difference in both mentality and play was dramatic. He started the second half with the original line-up but then in the 55th minute things began to change. Off went Pol Roige to be replaced by Diogo Salomao (who looks the business) and centre back Kasim Adams made way for Alfredo Ortuño, a proper No. 9, which meant we were down to three at the back.

In the 51st minute referee Arias Lopez deemed Nastic’s Xisco Campos to have fouled Oscar Diaz in the area and pointed to the spot. Lago Junior picked the ball up and looked the likely taker. Not to be outdone, Brandon Thomas decided he would take responsibility. It has to be said young Brandon had a terrible first 45 minutes and his body language before the penalty looked well off the money. He took the kick but Nastic ‘keeper Reina pulled off a stunning save down to his left. More misery for Mallorca fans and young Brandon was having a nightmare.

The 64th minute saw the game changer. A Nastic defender handled in the area – penalty number two. This time the mercurial Lago did the business, then went into the back of the net to retrieve the ball from the goalkeeper’s grasp in order to get on with the game. A mini tear-up then ensued and the Ivorian got chinned by some big Nastic ruffian in the back of the net. Lago received a booking for retaliating to being given an uppercut.

Then suddenly a game of football broke out at Son Moix. Nastic, who had fallen away badly, had a man sent off as Mallorca pushed for the equaliser. Seven minutes from time we drew level. Brandon made amends when he latched on to a loose ball in the area to hammer home, 2-2, and the young Cala D’Or player went from zero to hero. We nearly lost it at the death when Aveldaño’s back pass to Cabrero was way under hit but the keeper just managed to clear to safety.

SUMMING UP
This was our ninth draw of the season and the result did little to ease our relegation worries as we’re still just one point from the bottom four. The game was a slow burner (the pilot light went out in the first half) and sparked into life in the last 20 minutes. Lago Junior was our best player by a mile. He attacked, defended and ran at defenders. Mallorca still don’t look a team that knows how to win games. Passing the ball back to the goalkeeper from the halfway line when you’re two goals down isn’t good. It most certainly was a game of two halves and it was heart-in-mouth time near the end. Very strange to be booed off at half time and clapped off at the finish.

We still need 23 points for salvation and it's going to be a long, hard slog. Without fluency in our play early doors, coach Vazquez spent long periods pacing his technical area unable to believe what he was seeing and struggling to find a winning formation.

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