Real Mallorca once again showed their frailties away from home when they lost 2-0 at table-topping Albacete. Two goals from the home side in the fifth and ninety-fifth minutes saw the La Mancha outfit complete the double over us. Albacete are the most in-form team in La Segunda and now look clear candidates for promotion. But I don't think they'll have a more difficult game than the one on Sunday when Mallorca took them to the wire but in the end came up short. After the game was finished, the celebrations from the home team showed just how important this game was and how difficult it was for them to get all three points.
It was the same away scenario as has happened over the past few weeks at Gijon, Almeria and Pamplona, as again we failed to come back after going behind early. Albacete got off to a flyer with a brilliant goal. Susaeta and Tejero combined down the right and the latter's pinpoint cross was headed in like a bullet by Bela. Makeshift right-back Xisco Campos should have made a better attempt at defending the cross but turned his back on the danger allowing the Frenchman to put the home side ahead. Our coach Vicente Moreno surprised everybody with his 4-4-2 formation, new midfielder Leo Suarez taking on the false number 9 role. The young Argentinian (wearing the number 41 shirt) looks so fresh-faced he should be advertising Milky Bars. In all fairness he didn't see too much of the ball and was hacked down several times, eventually limping off in the 68th minute.
Centre half Xisco Campos was selected at right back and that was where Albacete did most damage. Campos moved into a three-man central defensive role leaving our right flank as barren as the Gobi Desert. Lago Junior, who was meant to be down the left, spent most of the game playing through the middle and he was another one who fell foul of some exuberant tackling from a resolute home defence. Albacete by now had Mallorca exactly where they wanted them and, try as the Palma side did, they couldn't penetrate the home rearguard. We had a couple of half-hearted efforts that didn't trouble Tomas Nadal in the home goal, and the ex-Mallorca keeper from Manacor only had one proper save to make all game, near the end. After the break, Mallorca marginally improved with the introduction of Gamez at right back and Stojiljkovic upfront. An Aridai shot was saved by Nadal at the second attempt in the 83rd minute. Aridai was probably our best player.
As time ran out, Mallorca went for that all-important equaliser. Efforts were scrambled away as high as row Z, then in the 94th minute Albacete broke out of their penalty area when Febas went on the charge. We had ten men in the opposition penalty area and it looked like a breakaway goal was on the cards. Febas had the beating of Raillo who was forced to foul the Albacete player. How our centre half stayed on the pitch was a mystery as it should have been a red card for a last man offence. Susaeta hit the perfect penalty into the top left-hand corner and Mallorca were down and out.
We again showed our vulnerability away from home which was especially portrayed by defensive deficiencies. In midfield Salva Sevilla, Baba and Dani Rodriguez tried hard but without freedom to spray passes around, Salva looked ordinary. On Sunday we reached game 23 of the season, and our away form at the moment means that getting into a play-off place isn't going to be easy. Coach Moreno’s original starting XI caused a lot of consternation in the Mallorcafé, and playing the false number 9 turned out to be a disaster, as did Campos filling in at right back. It was another black day for a Real Mallorca side who seem intent on showing their worst face every time they get on a plane, as we target 50 points to guarantee another season in La Segunda. However, everything is far from lost. Although we drop to ninth place (the lowest we've been all season), we're still only two points off the last play-off place with a comparatively easy home game against Lugo on Sunday.