Alex López, Mallorca's man of the match on Sunday.

17-12-2017

Real Mallorca were expected to secure all three points at home to bottom club Zaragoza B on Sunday but looked like a team out of gas and ideas long before the referee blew for full time. We remain seven points clear of Villarreal B at the top of Segunda B Group III and unbeaten, as the much-needed winter break starts.

Players and staff have a nine-day break and are back in training on Boxing Day. The Palma side looked mentally and physically drained and bore little resemblance to the team we saw earlier in the season. Zaragoza B's position down the bottom of the table didn't do them justice as they looked to be the best visiting team seen at the Son Moix this season; not as the league table showed, 31 points behind us.

The first half was dreadful with Mallorca sorely missing their star player Lago Junior, who could be seen near the tunnel on crutches. We started brightly enough with Lopez coming close twice in the first 15 minutes. Then in the 38th minute came the opener for the visitors. An innocuous cross from Zalaya saw the normally reliable Mallorca keeper Manolo Reina inexplicably losing sight of the ball in the afternoon sun. He dropped it at the feet of Nieto and the Zaragoza B player rammed in the gift-wrapped chance.

After the break, Mallorca played marginally better especially after James came on for a lightweight Bryan Reyna. Both these youngsters were a long way from filling Lago Junior's boots but at least James was getting crosses over. Pol Roige, who was drifting in and out of the game, was replaced by Cedric and Mallorca looked to have more impetus with three up front.

Five minutes after his introduction, Cedric got on the score-sheet and it was another goalkeeping howler. The Nigerian hit a shot which looked a comfortable save for Aaron in the 73rd minute but the ball went through his legs and nestled in the net. Ten minutes later, Mallorca went ahead after great work by Cedric. He shrugged off a couple of tackles, passed the ball to Bonilla, whose inch-perfect cross was headed in by Lopez. He gets a lot of stick for being a bit of a plodder with the ball at his feet but in the air he's superb, so much so that both leading local newpaper publications made him our man of the match. His goal looked to have sealed a win Mallorca didn't deserve but, at the death, Zaragoza drew level.

Our defence were caught ball watching as an unmarked Kike, from a counter attack, silenced the Son Moix crowd by scoring at the far post with just two minutes left to play. The 6,000 Mallorca faithful were stunned as they trooped out of the Son Moix. Four draws in a row, eight points dropped, as we await our next home game against Girona's B team, Peralada, on 7 January.

As players and staff at Real Mallorca go away to pull their crackers and stuff their turkeys, they are finding life as unbeaten leaders at the halfway point a tough place to be. Teams playing against us with packed five-man defences now know how to get some kind of result and Zaragoza B could easily have won this game.

On Sunday we were a listless shadow of the team who've looked a class apart from the other 19 sides in our league. Too many players didn't perform to the level expected and we must now bring in at least two new players in the transfer window.

The islanders persisted in trying to walk the ball into the net and spurned at least four goal attempts by over-elaborating in the 18-yard box. With the first half of season 2017/18 now over we have 43 points from a possible 57: twelve wins, seven draws, no defeats, 29 goals in favour and eight against, and we've led Group III since the sixth game.

In all honesty Mallorca should not be drawing at home to the bottom team who've struggled all season and we really looked well off the pace on Sunday. Yes, we saw four goals but it didn't feel like a game full of incident. Let's recharge the batteries and get ready for our big push for play-offs. There's a long way to go, with plenty of football still to be played before those play-offs take place in May.

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