Real Mallorca had their first draw of the season, 1-1 in Elche on Sunday. This was a strange game for the islanders. At times we showed we can play some brilliant football, yet at others we looked disconnected, especially when the home team grabbed a deserved equaliser. The team must learn not to sit back after scoring the first goal; let's get another, then think about going on the back foot, as we did again in this game.
Mallorca haven’t won in the league at the Martinez Valero stadium in 19 seasons, however, we took the lead in the 37th minute with a well-worked opener. Lago Junior whipped over a bullet cross which saw Abdon Prats poke home from four yards. Elche will have felt aggrieved about going in at half time behind, as two minutes after Prats scored they hit the post with a Sory Kaba effort. From the rebound, Neyder’s goal-bound shot was miraculously hooked off the line by Fran Gamez, who once again had a brilliant 90 minutes; he’s been our revelation player this season. On the stroke of half time the home team again came close. This time they capitalised on a breakdown in communication between Raillo and Reina, but somehow Ivan Sanchez failed to chip into an empty net.
After the break Elche went gung ho and found another gear as Mallorca struggled to stem the tide. Tackles came flying in as the referee started brandishing yellow cards. A goal for Elche looked in the offing and so it came to pass in the 53rd minute. With Mallorca chasing the game up the other end, Elche counterattacked. Nino, who at 38 years old has been a thorn in Mallorca’s side for a decade or more, went on a mazy run slipping the ball through to the always dangerous Sory Kaba. In acres of space he gave Reina no chance and hammered home the equaliser. It was no more than the home side deserved. Still the Elche cyclone didn’t slow down and Reina more than earned his wages.
Coach Vicente Moreno made a double substitution in the second half bringing on Ferran Giner and Carlos Castro as Mallorca began to buckle under pressure. We did manage to bag a couple of corners soon after, giving some of the big boys a chance to load the box, but the Elche defence held on. Then came the game’s turning point in the 79th minute. Abdon Prats, who was being hacked down left, right and centre, decided enough was enough and it was time for retribution. He tackled Neyder from behind and the Colombian went down poleaxed. There is a question as to whether Abdon got a foot to the ball, but then he started arguing with the referee who produced a second yellow for the Arta striker and he was for the early bath. I thought we were seeing a much-improved Abdon this season but once again on Sunday he crossed to the dark side with his protestations. Ten-man Mallorca managed to hang on for a draw. It was probably Elche’s best showing of the season so far, it certainly wasn’t for Mallorca, but to go to Elche and get a point in a ten-man adversity situation is ok by me.