Oriol and Ortuño not enjoying themselves.

30-04-2016Miquel A. Borras

Real Mallorca remain in serious relegation trouble after playing out an underwhelming La Segunda stalemate on a decidedly nippy Saturday night against second top Alaves. With Ponferradina drawing 1-1 at home to Zaragoza, Mallorca are just one point off the relegation bottom four with six games left to play. Anxiety amongst the Mallorca fans is now getting acute. The chilly north wind swirling around the Son Moix made it colder than Donald Trump meeting a crowd of Mexicans, and it certainly didn't warm up the players on the pitch in a game that was purgatory personified.

At times we played some neat football against a nothing-special Alaves team who hardly tested our goalkeeper all night, but our play was very disjointed. Football is a game where you must take even half a chance when you're struggling at the wrong end of the table; we didn't even manage to convert one of these. I think I was more thrilled back in 1992 when winning a signed photo of Iain Dowie than I was sitting through 90 minutes at the Son Moix on Saturday night in a game that was a terrible advert for the Spanish second division. Our current malaise shows no sign of abating (two points from a possible 12) and it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Coach Vazquez played Pereira and Arana down the flanks and both of them were substituted in the second half by Lago Junior and Salomao, who turned out to be our best player for all of the 28 minutes he was on the pitch. Both these wide players stretched the Alaves defence in the latter stages but our finishing and final pass were poor. In the boring first half we dominated possession without penetration. The visitors on the other hand were quite happy to put nine men behind the ball and rely on the break. The second half began marginally better: Ortuño got a header on target which brought a save from the Alaves keeper, then in the fifty-first minute Mallorca won a free kick after Ortuño was fouled just outside the area. Oscar Diaz took the subsequent free kick which cannoned off the crossbar with Pacheco in the Alaves goal clutching at fresh air. From the rebound, it looked like Sissoko was tripped in the area but a useless referee waved away protestations.

The Basque side then brought on a substitute and changed their playing system and suddenly a game of football broke out, most it it taking place in the centre of the pitch. Lago Junior and Salomao tried to up the tempo but the longer the game went on the more frustrated Mallorca got. First a subdued Sabater was booked, meaning he's suspended next week, and then in the dying seconds of added-on time, Joan Oriol put in a horrendous tackle on an Alaves player, to be shown a straight red – he can have no complaints.

Despite the initiative of free tickets for the match for socios and five-euro entrance for others, the gate of just over 7,000 was disappointing. Traffic gridlock in parts of the island caused by the Mallorca 312 cycle event and Barcelona live on TV were contributory factors, plus our football at the moment is crap.

SUMMING UP: Over the final six games Mallorca have to somehow raise their game to avoid the ignominy of relegation. Mallorca fans are not in a good place at the moment. The team's performances have been poor of late and we are a solitary point from the relegation trapdoor, which remains too close for comfort. On leaving the ground on Saturday night, I overheard mutterings from disgruntled local fans not knowing where our next win will come from. It's what's called in football terms “squeaky bum time”. We should theoretically see off second-bottom Albacete away next Sunday, but with our present form in the doldrums that result is far from being nailed on. That game, however, takes on special significance: it's a case of “win at all costs.” With six fixtures remaining, Mallorca fans are now looking over their shoulders to see other relegation-threatened teams' results, as we hang on to our second division lives by an ever-thinning thread.

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