Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A kick in the Polops

Oh goody, I get to visit the Nou Camp stadium! Unfortunately, the one I went to was some distance from Barcelona and the two teams who contested the match were light years away from La Liga. Still, as incidents go this game was quite a good 'un, allsorts of stuff occurred and, best of all, Santa Pola came away with a point from a tough away fixture. Way back in November, our heroes lost at home to Polop, today's opponents who, since then, have maintained a place just beneath the play-off spots and have proven difficult to beat in recent weeks.

Having been to the ground in each of the previous three seasons on my travels with Santa Pola, I still haven't got the hang of finding the place, this time was no different. Quite often in sunny Spain you have to negotiate roundabouts the size of the Isle of Wight that have their own postcodes, well, Polop's got one of these! The football stadium is actually situated on the southern edge of town and had I done a couple of circuits of the Isle of Wight ring road I would have spotted the correct exit off the roundabout. Instead I chose the wrong one and headed north through Polop town centre, out the other side and then did a massive, fifteen kilometre loop back down to the industrial estate where, less than a thousand metres from the roundabout, the stadium is situated. Ho hum!!

Somehow I managed to get there before any football started, although, had I continued driving around in my own little lost world I really wouldn't have missed too much, the first half was a bit of a shocker and I'm certain I caught the referee stifling a yawn. Santa Pola, despite playing by far the better football, were second best for much of a dull forty five minutes where Polop always looked likeliest to score. A stuttering half of football was interrupted three times by lengthy stoppages to allow players from both sides to receive treatment.  At a generous count, three goal scoring opportunities were the sum total, a couple of Polop efforts Julio easily saved and a Paloma cross which sailed an inch over the head of Adriano, from which any kind of touch would have tested Polop 'keeper Tonet. Half time 0-0

Almost immediately after play restarted things began to get quite tetchy, 'Pola full back Juan got away unpunished with a none too subtle shove in the back on Puncho as Polop began looking menacing, with and without the ball! After one or two "ave it" type challenges play continued for about twenty minutes, whereupon Juanlu went down in the Santa Pola box under a challenge from Monsa that was more Roy Orbison than Roy Keane. It mattered not, captain Monsa picked up a yellow card and Juanlu, having completely conned the referee, earned a dubious penalty that colleague Punchu slapped in via the base of a post for the opening goal. Meanwhile, on the near touchline Santa Pola substitute Hugo interrupted his warm up to have a go at the ref too; only one winner there sunshine, in the book you go!!

A goal down, most of the Santa Pola players tried to play football to get back into the match, the exception was full back Juan who was instantly red carded for a spiteful hack on Mingot. A second red card followed soon after when Monsa, who seconds earlier had been replaced, booted the back of the dug-out like frustrated players do and was promptly grassed up by the nearby assistant referee. Monsa's incredulity at the card soon evaporated and was replaced by a red mist only the intervention of playing colleague Marcos and others could quell. Santa Pola continued to push hard and Polop were put under intense pressure as time ebbed away, panic stricken clearances lumped anywhere were the order of the day, most of which were pumped straight back into the Polop box. From one such, Polop goalkeeper Tonet dropped a bit of a goolie and the ball, right at the feet of the lurking Adriano who stuffed it over the line with four minutes remaining. To be honest, it was an exceptionally lucky goal but nevertheless one Santa Pola definitely deserved.
Full time 1-1

PHOTOS; Top - No, not that Nou Camp stupid!
                  Middle - Juan had to go
                  Bottom - as Mark Wright once said "you fucking beauty"

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