Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seconds out - round two

Way back in November, on my Mum's birthday actually, I was feeling like crap having unwisely chosen to take a flu jab and dreading a lengthy trip up the road to watch Santa Pola play in Javea. In the end a 2-1 away defeat on a miserable rain sodden afternoon did nothing whatsover to lift my spirits and the journey back was not a happy one. The next time the same two teams squared off everything about the occasion was altogether better, the weather, no man flu, the form Santa Pola were in and best of all the venue, the Manolo Macia stadium just fifteen odd kilometres from home.

Taken one at a time all the ingredients were in place for a nice morning out, a gorgeous sunny April morning, the kind where it's perfectly possible to get sunburnt without realizing, no need at all for the Frenadol, the team full of confidence after a decent away show the previous week and a good crowd in, bolstered by a few vociferous Javea types. On paper the match looked to be between two somewhat mis-matched teams, Javea, scrabbling for points in the lower reaches of the Preferente table versus Santa Pola, likely to just miss out on a play-off place should have been a bit lop-sided, in the end it was anything but.

Fifteen seconds after the start, Javea were ahead courtesy of an unfortunate slip by goal-keeper Julio, last week's hero, attempting to clear a routine back pass "topped" it whilst losing his footing, the lurking Javea forward Oscar gleefully filled his boots as Julio could only check his. In games gone by conceding first roused Santa Pola from their slumbers and sluggish start, not today though, a still sleeping Marcos saw his weak penalty easily saved by Javea 'keeper Ortola as Santa Pola squandered a golden chance to level things. With the visitors in the ascendancy in a largely uneventful game, a well below par Santa Pola equalized with a good hit by debutante Hucha to send the sides in square at the break.

The second half though, was where all the fun was to be had, for the second time Javea went ahead and looked good value for the lead when the influential Ivars demonstrated to 'Pola midfielder Marcos how to take a penalty, 1-2 Javea. An hour into things the realisation they were behind suddenly hit Santa Pola and at long last they began to play like they can. Astute substitutions by coach Domingo Grau meant they would finish the game with four strikers, Adriano, Chema, Hucha and Mario Fernandez, two of whom were later to turn the match. After a spell of pressure, a second goal for the home side wasn't long in coming, the energetic Paloma found Adriano just inside the box for two two with not long to go. Any normal football team, offered a point playing well below their best, would bite your hand off, but, as they've done all season, win, lose or draw, Santa Pola did things their way.

Santa Pola were ahead only once in the match and that was for exactly the length of time it took for them to go behind, fiteen seconds. Deep into added on time referee Romero Lopez awarded the home side a penalty, for quite what wasn't entirely clear, especially to the orange shirted guests who were furious. With snapping and snarling by both sets of players the usual handbags was quickly quelled and Chema stepped up to win the game from the spot. Very shortly after, the 3-2 Santa Pola victory was met by more ugly scenes near the centre circle as the warring factions, abetted by a livid Javea technical team, kicked things off very nicely.

I was right too, it was the kind of morning to catch the sun without knowing. Two sun glass shaped white bits on my red forehead can vouch for that.

top - A busy day for the match official
next - Marcos, the penalty miss didn't prove crucial
second bottom - The furious Javea players
just above - Ugly scenes at the end

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