01-10-2018

Real Mallorca flew back from Santiago de Compostela airport on Sunday after gaining a highly satisfactory Saturday night point at Galician side Lugo. The visitors took to the pitch wearing their never-before-seen garish third choice strip of lime green and black, but the hi-vis colour didn’t deter the home side who (like Albacete a week ago) opened the scoring in under three minutes.

In fact, it took just two minutes and 53 seconds when, after three passes, Lugo captain and centre half Carlos Pita sent the pitifully low crowd of just 3,100 into raptures with a strong shot from just outside the area which beat Reina all ends up.

Without the regular centre back pairing of Raillo and Xisco Campos, our defence took time to settle, but to their credit Mallorca galvanised (the sign of a confident team) and began to get on top. Somehow the Lugo defence held us at bay for most of the first half but their resilience was broken just before the interval. Not long after the first of two “hydration breaks” and after he’d put in a crunching goal-saving tackle to prevent the home side taking the lead, full back Fran Gamez suddenly appeared in the Lugo penalty area after an Aridai free kick had hit the bar. Gamez darted past a defender, cut inside and hit a left foot curler into the net for another goal of the season contender.

He was signed in January from Valencia Segunda B side At. Saguntino and has been terrific this season, once again being our best player. Not far behind him was veteran (silver fox) Salva Sevilla. He had a shot in the second half that hit the post and had a postage-stamp free kick clawed away spectacularly by Lugo keeper Juan Carlos. But still we cry out for an out-and-out goalscoring striker, as we battered at the Lugo defensive door. Lago Junior again ran himself to a standstill but for all his efforts we simply couldn’t put the final pass into the net. An injured Russo at centre half was replaced by Baba in the 55th minute with Pedraza moving into defence. Baba’s input saw more Mallorca dominance but still no elusive second goal.

With our American president Andy Kohlberg making a surprise appearance in the Anxo Carro, he would have been pleased to see Vicente Moreno has managed to form a group of players that still works okay even with several key participants missing. In the end, the draw was a fair result with Mallorca unlucky not to get all three points. We have to learn that concentration, especially in defence, starts when the first whistle blows. Again we went to sleep within the first three minutes, something we mustn’t do against better teams in La Segunda. The Palma side almost grabbed a winner in the 67th minute, a great through ball from Salva Ruiz was intercepted by Kravets with Aridai waiting at the far post to score in the empty net. Chances began to dwindle for both teams as full time loomed, in a game that was end to end football.

After the weekend’s games, Malaga open up a four-point lead at the top, four teams are second on 14 points, and Mallorca lie 8th with 11. It’s all very tight.

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