Real Mallorca again put their fans through the emotional wringer before finally overcoming eighth-placed Alcoyano 1-0 with a Javier Bonilla penalty kick in the 76th minute to stay ten points ahead of Villarreal B in Group III of Segunda B. The result means that the Palma side haven't lost a game in Son Moix for a year since they went down 4-1 to Tenerife on 25 February 2017. We should have been at least two up at half time but a couple of “missed sitters” from Nigerian striker Cedric Omoigui made life much more difficult than it should have been. Once again we started a game looking sharp, dominating play, creating clear-cut chances which should have been put away easily.
Both our early chances were created by James down the right wing, his twinkling feet caused major problems in the visitors' defence. Both his pinpoint passes in the first half hour were squandered by Cedric who, given the chance to play up front in place of the suspended Alex Lopez, failed to take advantage of the opportunity. Maybe the young Nigerian was trying too hard to make an impression but the second gilt-edged chance he had to score was a howler of biblical proportions.
Alcoyano came to Palma on the back of three away wins on the bounce. Like so many teams we've seen here in Palma this season, their defence were solid, the midfield adequate but finishing in the final third was woeful. Their first corner of the game came in the fourth minute of added-on time. Our goalkeeper Manolo Reina was a spectator for most of the first half. We created chances galore but somehow the ball was destined not to go in. For the fifth game in a row Mallorca reached the interval without scoring.
For the first time this season at home we had five substitutes warming up on the pitch at half time. Vicente Moreno, celebrating his 200th game as a coach, needed to mix things up a bit. As usual at home with Mallorca playing towards the Ultras at the North end we took the game by the scruff of the neck. Three times in ten minutes the ball trundled narrowly past the right-hand post as Mallorca pressed and pressed. Bonilla, Cedric and Xisco Campos all saw efforts come close, then in the 75th minute Joan Sastre, who was outstanding again on Sunday, went on a mazy run into the visiting penalty area. With his second touch he was upended by Navarro, and referee Brea Peon immediately pointed to the spot. Many Mallorca fans couldn't look as Bonilla stepped up to convert straight down the middle.
Towards the end of the game things became stretched and players were dropping like flies. Six minutes were added on after a prolonged injury to Xisco Campos was attended to. The referee blew for time in what was a really exciting finish to an ordinary game. Unbelievably, hundreds of fans trooped out of the ground at least ten minutes before the end. Only 6,143 turned up on Sunday. We've sold over 9,000 season tickets so, for some reason or another, with Mallorca unbeaten at home and top of the league by 10 points, 3,000 members have suddenly become invisible.
Summing up: Mallorca had a chance to see their new signings on Sunday as both Alejandro Faurlin and Dani Ndi came on towards the end. Ndi, who looked far from match fit, took over from Cedric and the Cameroon international nearly scored. His left foot effort brought out a brilliant save from Bañus. The keeper then followed that up by fisting away a rasper from Bonilla. Faurlin, who also doesn't look 100% fit, took over from the injured James in the 73rd minute and his experience off the bench gave the coach another option. My man of the match was “silver fox” veteran Salva Sevilla. He must have covered every blade of grass on one of the best manicured surfaces in Spanish football, full credit to the ground staff. Salva has now become an integral part of our initial line-up.
Xisco Campos went down near the end after being felled by one of his own players, who kicked him in the solar plexus region. After several minutes on came the motorised stretcher to take him off the field of play; it didn't look good for our skipper. Then, the minute the stretcher vehicle reached the touchline, Xisco had made a recovery of Lazarus proportions, he jumped off the stretcher putting up his arm to ask the referee to come back onto the pitch.
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