The tightness of the teams pushing for the play-off’s in Group 6 of the Spanish Tercera Division makes the English Championship look like a one-horse race. CD Torrevieja have four matches left and find themselves in tenth place just two points off a play-off place.
Just five points separate 5th from 12th so teams as far down as Torre Levante and Paterna will still, on some level, hope that things could go there way.
Going into the game against Jove Espanol, who themselves had a lot riding on the outcome of the match with their own battle against relegation, coach Pedreno made just one change from the team that drew away at Cullera the previous week. Correro was preferred to Burguillos and the side lined up in their attacking 4231 shape.
In the very first minute Eddy, still deputising for the injured Ruben, gave the ball away on the edge of the penalty area and looked very relieved as the Jove Espanol striker failed to make the most of this early gift. Jove Espanol started the game the brighter of the two teams, this time a patient build-up leading to a shot being fired wide after five minutes.
Torrevieja started to grow into the match, probing down the wings of Cristian and Brani. In the ninth minute Brani was fouled. Carrasco took a quick free kick to release the winger who crossed to Cristian, arriving at the far post. His shot was blocked. Ten minutes later, another quick free kick. Carrasco found Rafa Gomez who chested the ball down to Brani. His shot was beaten away by the goalkeeper. Torrevieja’s chances seemed to be coming from set pieces, quick or otherwise. Adrian delivered a cross from the left following a foul on Cristian. Carrasco’s flick was tipped away. From the resulting corner Carrasco flicked a header goalwards, only to see it hit a man on the line and go wide. With ten minutes to go in the half yet another free kick led to a chance, this Adrian crossing from the right and Jorge, totally unmarked at the far post, saw his volley cannon against the crossbar and over.
Finally the breakthrough came. In the forty-first minute, unsurprisingly from a free kick delivered by Adrian, Rafa Gomez glanced the ball into the far corner with his curly mop of hair and Torrevieja were one-nil up at the break.
Jove Espanol came out all guns, and everything else, blazing in the second half. The tackles got bigger, the elbows were extended and the game turned into a really physical battle. Chances became non-existent as both teams stood their ground, not looking to be out muscled by the other. The referee struggled to stay on top of things, and then in the seventy-fifth minute chose the wrong incident to clamp down on. Alexis, eyes on the ball, caught the Jove Espanol striker with a high boot and he went down, allegedly pole-axed. The referee went to his pocket and Alexis immediately held his hands up with the classic “yes, that was a little clumsy, no complaints about the yellow there.” When the red-card came out the look of surprise and shock on the face of the big defender’s face made it plain to see that the referee had made a mistake, there is no way that emotion can be faked if, as a player, you know you have intended to catch your opponent. It was a poor, poor decision.
Pedreno reshuffled the troops into a 441 formation and the game threatened to boil over as Jove Espanol pushed harder, often by fair means or foul. Oscar was called upon in the last minute of the game to make a fantastic save at his near post, moment after the miraculously recovered striker had screwed a golden opportunity far wide of the goal. In the final minute of injury time Berna, on for Brani, had a great chance to settle it but blazed the ball over the bar.
It was a hard earned three points, but a valuable three points. Above Torrevieja sit both Crevillente and Novelda, and with both teams to be played in the next fortnight means that Torrevieja’s fate is still very much in their own hands.
CD Torrevieja; Oscar; Vicente, Alexis, Eddy, Adrian; Jorge, Corello; Brani (Berna), Carrasco, Cristian (Burguillos); Rafa Gomez (Cesar).