Real Mallorca match at home

Captain Xisco Campos leaves the pitch on a stretcher.

23-09-2018MIQUEL A. BORR¿ÅS

Real Mallorca lost their first home game of the season 3-1 to Albacete, a result which flattered the visitors. This was a game in which everything possible in football happened to us on Sunday lunchtime in front of 7,782 spectators. Mallorca were caught flatfooted in the second minute when Albacete's Albanian striker Rey Manaj nipped in to whip in the opener, with hundreds of fans still pouring into the Son Moix. It's always difficult to come back after a team scores early doors and so it was for Mallorca. Albacete looked physically bigger and stronger than us and in the Albanian hit man (he played a major part in proceedings), they had a player who tormented Mallorca all afternoon. We tried hard to get back into the game but our buildup was too slow, we always took one touch too many, and some of our passing left a lot to be desired.

Near half time Alex Lopez hit a shot that had equaliser written all over it, but Albacete's Manacor-born goalkeeper Tomeu Nadal rose higher than a Mary Berry Victoria sponge to fingertip the ball over the bar. That was as close as we got in the first half before the major turning point in the game happened.

Just before the break, our captain Xisco Campos was involved in an incident with Albacete's chief protagonist Manaj. Both took nasty falls but Xisco’s was worse - much worse. The minute the altercation happened bang in front of the Albacete bench, they all stood up calling for immediate medical attention. Top marks to the Albacete doctor who was first on the pitch to attend to Xisco, turning him over in case he swallowed his tongue. Xisco could be seen moving his arms, remaining prostrate for ten minutes before the ambulance and paramedics were called into action. By now Xisco looked in some distress with blood pouring from his head. His wife sitting in the stand was given the thumbs-up by our goalkeeper Manolo Reina and she came down to join her husband before they left in the ambulance. The medical report from the Juaneda Clinic said Xisco had a grade one cranial trauma and he was being kept overnight for observation.

Basque referee Sagues Oscoz had a nightmare game and was to blame in turning what should have been an entertaining match into a parental viewing discretion encounter with his pedantic refereeing style - he gave us nothing. Things went from bad to worse in the 49th minute. Antonio Raillo took things into his own hands (elbow actually) when he fouled Albacetes Ukrainian striker Zozulya and was shown a straight red. Mallorca were now really up against it, but six minutes later they drew level. Lago Junior shrugged off a couple of tackles to hit a speculative shot through a thicket of players, the ball finishing in the net.

After that there were more incidents off the ball than on it. With the man advantage the game became one-way traffic as Mallorca toiled in the heat. Then ex-Mallorca misfit Acuña, presented two seasons ago as one of the star signings of the long-forgotten Utz Claassen (Acuña spent a whole season without scoring), got in on the act, netting two easy-peasy goals in the 60th and 89th minute, putting the visitors on easy street. But the score flattered them, they weren’t two goals better than us.

We lost to a good team but down to ten men our task became difficult. The absurd dismissal of Antonio Raillo was the difference on Sunday. Mallorca still had enough in their locker to snatch at least a point but Raillo's red card changed all that. The time has come for the club to take decisive action with the Cordoba-born centre half. His sending-off on Sunday was irresponsible and he let the team and fans down. The problem is its not the first time Raillo's crossed the line. He is now facing a four-game suspension.

Also, the powers that be who organise these kick-off times should take a look at daytime temperatures before scheduling a game of football in the intense heat of 32ºC. Even with two water breaks, players were still taking on board copious amounts of liquid. All Mallorca players can take credit for their performance on Sunday, spoilt by a terrible referee. How Manaj wasn’t booked or even sent off for the altercation with Xisco Campos, I’ll never know.

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