Friday, June 4, 2010

The Segunda A goes down to the wire

As Preferente football was neatly folded up and carefully put away in the drawer marked September, there was still one burning issue from the 2009/10 football season to settle, and for me, it's a matter of enormous interest. The culmination of the Segunda A season is coming to a thrilling close, and, with just three games remaining, both local clubs to feature heavily in my blog are well placed and contending for promotion to La Primera, Spanish football's elite division.

The story from Elche CF is remarkable, a poor start and wallowing in the bottom three saw their manager, Claudio Barragan sacked and replaced by Pepe Bordalas in October. Thereafter, their fortunes improved and a steady climb up the table began, and, in early June they're handily placed just four points below, believe it or not,  Hercules in the third and final promotion place. No such drama for Hercules though, all season long they've been up at the front, and, were it not for a poor trot during March and April, they would have been sitting pretty now. As it turns out though, those spring time jitters may still end up costing the club dear.

This weekend, Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th sees two clubs from just south of Alicante province attempt to put a spanner in the works of both Herc' and Elch as the fixture computer just happened to burp out a couple of intriguing matches at this critical juncture of the season. In the same way Hercules and Elche football clubs hate each others guts, the same can be said of both Real Murcia and Cartagena, the only time fans of these two see eye to eye is squaring up to each other after the Murcia derby.  This weekend then, Murcia travel to Elche on Saturday evening and the following day Hercules head in the opposite direction for a date with a hostile reception at the intimidating Cartagonova stadium.

In addition to lashings of local pride, each of the two games has quite a bit riding on it, promotion outsiders Elche haven't given up the ghost of going up, and, in their burly centre forward Jorge Molina, have the league's leading scorer and contender for the "pichichi" trophy at season's end. For their part, Real Murcia have a little on their plate too, namely Segunda A survival, with games rapidly running out, Los Pimentoneros, are third bottom and just a handful of points from safety. No doubt at all, their relegation dogfight is just about to involve Alicante neightbours Elche, themselves keen to snatch three points.

As six pointeers go, Cartagena versus Hercules late on Sunday evening is a real seven pointer, equal on sixty four points, a draw, the likely result even though Cartagena have home advantage, will help neither team. The way things are shaping up, Real Sociedad, (who must still visit Elche) and Levante are creeping away from the pack, therefore five other teams are chasing third place and untold La Liga riches. One thing is certain, in my patch all police leave for this weekend was cancelled weeks ago.

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