After a weekend when the 1940s Christmas song “Baby it’s cold outside” has been banned on some radio stations because its predatory lyrics in 2018 suggest date rape – what a sensitive world we live in! – Real Mallorca finally overcame a spirited Reus side to remain in the top six of Spain’s La Liga 2, after a 0-2 win in Catalunya on Saturday night. This victory sees the Palma side continue with their principal aim this season – to stay in the Second division. 27 points from 16 games is way above our pre-season expectations. Another three points, another clean sheet, back into the top six, seven games unbeaten, and four points away from direct promotion. The first half was dullness personified, the only highlight being a mazy run by Joan Sastre which saw Reus ‘keeper Edgar Badia pull off a good save.
Before kick-off eyebrows were being raised and murmurings were heard from fans in the Mallorcafé when the initial line-up saw two of our invisible players, Carlos Castro and Pablo Valcarce making a start. Castro was again a huge disappointment and hardly had a kick. Valcarce however was a revelation and his 70th minute wonder goal silenced his critics, me included ! Perhaps now he will produce the form that was expected of him.
The second half started off with an Alex Lopez scissor-kick which shaved the post as Mallorca began to find a rich vein of form which delighted the 300-strong Mallorca travelling support. Reus face administration relegation and have until midnight tomorrow to find 5 million euros otherwise it’s administrative descent to Segunda B. Rumour has it Barcelona’s Gerard Pique is a possible benefactor. They were a dejected outfit and only ex Oviedo striker Linares looked a threat. An effort from him in the 59th minute looked to have goal written all over it but somehow Antonio Raillo got a head to the ball and the threat was over. The big Cordoba-born Raillo was superb and will take the armband next Saturday, 6 pm, against Malaga as our skipper Xisco Campos picked up a fifth yellow and an automatic suspension.
On the hour, coach Vicente Moreno made the necessary changes taking off Castro for Stoichkov. We now controlled the game and it came as no surprise when we deservedly took the lead. Mallorca won a free kick just outside the penalty area. Stoichkov’s effort was palmed away by Badia. Alex Lopez was on it like a flash, passed to Valcarce and his curly-wurly bender flew into the top left corner, 0-1. He went into raptures when it went in and his expressions showed just what that strike had meant to him. One minute from normal time, Lago Junior (who again was mesmeric at times) dashed into the penalty area and was up-ended – a clear cut penalty. The Ivorian took it, and Badia saved his weak effort but couldn’t stop the rebound falling into Lago’s path and he made it 0-2 and brings his goal tally to eight.
With a second leg cup match at Valladolid tomorrow night (1-2) coach Vicente Moreno made changes and, although we still missed the guile of Salva Sevilla in midfield, Mallorca won comfortably in the end. The youngster Baba made his first start in mid field and didn’t put a foot wrong but it was Pablo Valcarce who gets all the plaudits. He was very much in the frame to move on in January but his input on Saturday more or less guarantees he stays at least until May.
At the post match press meeting Moreno said he was delighted with the hard work shown by his players. He also praised the travelling fans, 120 of whom travelled overnight and back on the ferry – their commitment was well worth three more points.
Next Saturday Malaga are the visitors. After a great start to the season, they’ve lost three and drawn one of their last five games so are not as invincible as was predicted. With Mallorca playing well, we could be in the top five next weekend.
PS Quote of the week comes from John Toshack talking about Gareth Bale: “What disappoints me about him is that the time he has been there, he should be able to do an interview in Spanish. It’s nothing to do with the goals he scores, but if you go to work at these places, you owe it respectfully to the people.”
AND FINALLY, our esteemed Editor Jason Moore was telling me he met a representative from the Falkland Islands Tourist Board at the recent World Travel Market in London. He asked her how things were tourist-wise on the South Atlantic outpost and she answered “Not too bad, business is picking up but we could do with some more flights.” A subject close to his heart, and thinking the young lady meant another one, perhaps mid-week, Jason asked her “How many flights do you have at present?” to which she replied “One a month, from RAF Brize Norton!” Talk about better in winter!