After a weekend when I was asked the question: Is LWLDLLLL (A) a village in the Rhonda Valley or (B) Arsenal’s last eight league results? – the answer is, of course (B)! – Real Mallorca’s 17-match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end on Saturday night. A string of arbitrary blunders and a couple of howlers from Mallorca’s normally reliable goalkeeper Manolo Reina (in a game he’ll want to forget) saw the Palma side go down 2-3 to bang average Madrid mid-table plodders and divers Fuenlabrada. Our defeat and Espanyol beating third-placed Almeria 2-1 on Sunday meant we lost top spot. We are now one point behind new leaders Espanyol in second, and three ahead of third side Almeria.
Mallorca played for 50 minutes with nine men after a Galician numpty referee called Iglesias Villanueva sent off two Mallorca players contentiously for offences that hardly warranted admonishment. Señor Villanueva was a La Liga referee for six years before being demoted last season and it wasn’t rocket science to see why – in the last nine games in which he’s officiated, he’s dished out 53 yellow cards! Some of his decisions on Saturday were bewildering, ludicrous and disgraceful. It’s to Mallorca’s credit they almost got a result as they played better with nine than Fuenlabrada did with 11.
The game got off to the worst possible start for us as we gifted the visitors’ opener in the 10th minute. A free kick by Ribas was fumbled by Reina who pushed the shot straight to Pulido’s feet and he accepted the chance which was wrapped up in Christmas paper, 0-1. That was the first time we’d been behind since our opening game defeat 0-1 to Rayo Vallecano. Minutes later we thought we’d equalised when Abdon scored. The referee consulted VAR and after a six-minute deliberation the goal was chalked off. Allegedly the ball had hit Raillo’s arm in the build-up when replays showed it didn’t, but it was a tight decision only seen by the official. In the six minutes of impasse, Raillo was in the referee’s face telling him in no uncertain terms what he thought of the decision.
In the 19th minute Cufre scored his first goal for Mallorca and then not long after the referee booked the Argentinian a second time and he was off, again a highly questionable decision. The referee added six minutes after all the VAR palaver and in that time the visitors went ahead again, with Raillo now being dismissed for two yellow cards in 20 seconds. “Fuenla” won a free kick out on the right. Salvadore’s effort evaded everybody in the packed penalty area (it was busier than Kay Burley’s birthday bash!) and finished off in the net 1-2. Nine-man Real Mallorca now had a mountain to climb in the second half. With ten men you have a chance but with nine it’s nigh on impossible – that’s the theory. Mallorca dispelled that premise big time. After the restart Galaretta put a free kick on Abdon’s head and he nodded in unchallenged, 2-2. That was the “Arta assassin’s” fifth league goal of the season but it was to no avail as Damian scored in the 62nd minute after Reina decided to punch clear a free kick that he should have held on to. The clearance landed at Damian’s feet and he netted through a sea of legs, 2-3.
There was still time for Antonio Sanchez to agonisingly rattle the bar in the 68th minute for Mallorca and Abdon had another effort that came close. We had put up a magnificent fight against all odds and came mighty close to getting at least a draw. Mallorca will face Fuenlabrada again in the Copa del Rey during the first week of January in Madrid.
SUMMING UP: There should be a system brought in where referees are suspended for making dodgey decisions. Anybody else who’d made as many glaring errors in another job or profession would have been sacked for incompetence. Saturday’s referee came from A Coruña, whom we beat in the La Liga play-off a year past May. Was he out for retribution?! The defeat left a bitter aftertaste as we were robbed by dubious decision making – the referee gave us nothing. Mallorca now have a 13-day break until La Liga SmartBank resumes, as they lick their wounds and get ready for the big promotional push in the New Year. I’ve no doubt there’ll be several more banana-skin games like on Saturday before the season ends in May.
Feliz Navidad y Molts D’Anys Tots.
AND FINALLY, Cinderella is now 95 years old. After a fulfilling life with the now dead Prince, she passes the days on her rocking chair with a cat named Bob for companionship. One sunny afternoon out of nowhere appeared a fairy godmother. She told Cinders “You have lived an exemplary life, is there anything you heart desireth?” Cinderella said “The Prince was wonderful but useless with money. I'm now living hand to mouth on a derisory pension and I wish I was wealthy beyond all comprehension.” Instantly her rocking chair turned into solid gold. The fairy godmother carried on “Right, that's your first wish taken care of. What do you want for your second?” Cinderella looked down at her frail body and said “I wish I was young and voluptuous again, like I used to be.” Her second wish became a reality and her beautiful body returned, she felt stirrings inside her that had been dormant for years (steady, Monro!). The fairy godmother then said “You have one more wish, what shall it be?” Cinderella looked over to the cat cowering in the corner “I wish you to transform Bob into a kind and sexy young man.” Her wish came true and Bob was transformed into an Adonis. The fairy godmother told Cinders “There's your three wishes. I hope you enjoy your new life,” and with a flash she was gone. Bob and Cinderella looked into each other's eyes. They both ran into each other's arms and kissed passionately. He leaned in close, nibbling at Cinderella's ear lobe. She was getting turned on. He blew her golden hair with his warm breath and whispered “Bet you're sorry now that you cut my b****cks off!!”