Real Mallorca lost their run of four home games undefeated when in a vibrant game they drew 1-1 against a very physical Elche side on Sunday. This game saw our worst first half performance of the season and it was no surprise the visitors went ahead after 14 minutes. Mallorca's nemesis Nino was heavily involved in the opener. The 38-year-old striker has been a thorn in our side for a couple of decades. He went on a jinky run before squaring to Ivan Sanchez and he wellied in to put the visitors deservedly ahead. Things were so bad that visiting goalkeeper Badia, signed from the now defunct Reus, didn't have a single save to make.
Half time came with Mallorca fans subdued by what they had seen; things weren't looking too optimistic. But all that was about to change. Alex Lopez was seen warming up at the break and his entrance at the start of the second half unbelievably changed the game for Real Mallorca. We now had two strikers and the tables were turned as Moreno tore up his original tactical script. There was no doubt the visitors were the dirtiest team seen this season in Palma. Somebody said to me: Were they trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records with the number of yellow cards they received, seven, plus one red? Mallorca midfielder, omnipresent Dani Rodriguez, took the game by the scruff of the neck as he continued his rich vein of form. With Aridai making way for Lopez, Rodriguez was pushed out on the right and became a major part of the Mallorca resurgence. Veteran Salva Sevilla found the pace of this game a little too much and after a few misplaced passes began to look leggy the longer the game progressed.
Elche's defence was magnificent, blocking at least eight attempts on goal until the 55th minute when Budimir scored his third goal since arriving in January. "Budi" has quickly become a fans' favourite and his presence upfront made a huge difference to our attacking options, as the visitors brought their time-wasting tactics to new levels. In the 66th minute Qasmi was shown a second yellow for simulation which meant Mallorca faced another nemesis - how to play against ten men. Referee Pizarro Gomez from Madrid had an excellent game but needed to have eyes in the back of his head, there was so much going on. With the breeze in their faces, Mallorca went for one final push, as the referee added five minutes, a resurgent Alex Lopez agonisingly missed a headed chance at the death.
Elche resorted to all kinds of skullduggery to keep their goal intact and the yellow card count was justified. They had no intention of losing this game and it spoilt it as a spectacle with lots of niggly stoppages. We can have no excuse, Mallorca should have won this against a ten-man side who probably deserve to be higher up the league. Our defence was breached in the Son Moix for the first time since 8 December and we always seem to have problems with Elche, our bogey team.
After the weekend's results, Lugo did us a massive favour by drawing away at Oviedo with a last-minute equaliser. Cadiz fill the last play-off place on 47 points. Oviedo (our opponents next Saturday) have 44 points, Almeria have 43 and we're on 42.