Real Mallorca looking impressive, especially in the first half, easily beat Castellon 3-1 on Monday night to make it 16 games unbeaten as they regained top spot after Espanyol beat Sporting Gijon 2-0 on Sunday.
The first 15 minutes looked like Mallorca would steamroller Castellon as the Palma side were all over the visitors. It was no surprise when they took the lead when a reborn Abdon Prats opened the scoring in the 8th minute. Aleix Febas put the ball on a plate for Abdon (now called the Arta Assassin!) and he finished with aplomb, chesting the ball down before rifling home 1-0. There are aspects of football that are inexplicable, how is it that a player who went a year and a half without scoring suddenly finds goalscoring easy peasy, netting four in three games? Have we at last found the striker we’ve been looking for?
Five minutes later Mallorca doubled their lead and it was that man Salva Sevilla again. The build up was started by Abdon who passed to my “man of the match” Mboula who threaded the ball through and Salva slammed it in 2-0. It’s such a shame there weren’t any fans in the Son Moix because that effort would have sent the faithful into raptures – it was a fabulous goal with just four touches in the build-up.
Mallorca by now were in cruise control as they dominated from start to half time and the three points looked a nailed-on certainty. However, in the second half we became complacent and Castellon began to make a fight of it. The first warning came from Arturo who forced Reina into yet another great save which Gamez cleared off the line. Both Salva Sevilla and Abdon Prats had chances to put Mallorca over the hill and far away but their efforts came to nothing. Then in the 55th minute came Mallorca’s third and it was another cracking goal. Mboula playing his best game for Mallorca got the ball from Gamez, ran 20 yards before his pinpoint cross saw Abdon slide in the third. VAR got involved and after the usual bit of nail-biting suspense the goal stood, 3-0.
With the game all but over, coach Luis Garcia Plaza brought on his quota of substitutes and the game swung back in Castellon’s favour. Galaretta was replaced by Sedlar just past the hour mark and he was involved for all the wrong reasons in Castellon’s consolidation in the 73rd minute.
Croatian Sedlar came from Polish football two years ago and is paid big bucks but hasn’t exactly set the heather on fire. His disciplinary record isn’t the best and he was lucky to stay on the pitch on Monday. A scything tackle from behind saw the visitors get a free kick wide of the penalty area down the left. The ball was zipped over and Satrustegui unmarked headed in for Castellon. Defender Cufre should have been involved in clearing the free header but he was nowhere to be seen as Mallorca conceded only their fourth goal of the season.
Then wonder kid Luka Romero missed a good chance to make it four on a one-on-one with the Castellon goalkeeper as an excellent referee from Murcia, Rafael Sanchez Lupez, blew for time.
In an entertaining game, Mallorca consolidated their leadership but another stronger opponent may have punished us for taking the foot off the gas in the second half. On Saturday at 4pm we have a huge away game in Madrid against Leganes who lie six points behind us in fourth. Win that and the gap gets even bigger. This game carries even more significance because Leganes are coached by Palma-born and ex Mallorca player/captain Pep Luis Marti. Our coach Luis Garcia Plaza left Antonio Raillo out from our squad on Monday as he is one card away from suspension, his services on Saturday are vital to the cause.
Real Mallorca’s season is being compared to 95/96 when we went 17 games unbeaten. The team finished in third place back then before losing in the promotional play-off final to Rayo Vallecano 2-1 on aggregate. That unbeaten run started with a 0-0 draw at home to Lleida. I remember this game played on a freezing Saturday night in the Luis Sitjar at the end of January in 1996 because the south end goal collapsed. It was a bloody awful game and the hardest part for our little posse of ex pat fans standing behind the said goal was trying to keep warm. Fifteen minutes into the game the Lleida ‘keeper was lining up a goal kick. Stepping backward before lumping the ball up the other end, he kicked the base of the post and the goal frame collapsed. As I had to go to a Burns Night celebration dinner, I left the Luis Sitjar early but it took all of half an hour to bring in a replacement goal from another nearby ground. I left with Jose the welder perched on top of some shaky steps welding the goal back together – happy days!!
AND FINALLY, one night a Viking called Rudolph the Red was looking out of the window when he said “It’s going to rain.” His wife asked “How do you know?” “Because Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”