We left in sunshine, and then it started to pour down with rain, a little lightning and plenty of thunder. I should have seen the sign really.
Torrevieja headed to Novelda yesterday full of optimism that it was still possible, although difficult, to make a late charge into the play-off penalty area and thump a header into the back of the net. Unfortunately, following today’s result that late run was blocked by a clever central defender and the chance has gone begging. That analogy made sense to me when I wrote it.
For the first time in his brief tenure Pedreno erred on the side of caution in his team selection, dropping Cristian to the bench and going for a third central midfielder in Juanra. With Jorge filling the Alexis shaped hole in defence, due to his suspension, Burguillos was brought in to make up the three with Corella. Brani switched to the left wing leaving Rafa Gomez to try and get involved from the right hand side.
Within minutes of the game starting it was clear Novelda were a side in form, and therefore playing with confidence that inspired. The ball was being played into their unit of a centre forward, Ibra, who in the classic clichéd way had a good touch for a big lad. He was coming in short and spraying passes out to the rapid Novelda wingers. It felt like it was going to be a long day.
After about seven minutes the first real incident of note occurred. Jorge, starting nervously at the back, appeared to clean out their other front man Edu Serrano in the area when the Novelda number ten was clean through and about to shoot. Surprisingly neither the referee or his assistant felt it was worthy of a penalty and we were able to move on. Or not, as the case maybe. Jorge, looking slightly more rattled, dropped a header to Oscar terribly short and once again Torrevieja were let off the hook as Edu Serrano failed to capitalise.
Torrevieja started to settle and the direct running of Brani on the left was starting to unsettle Novelda. With his pace dragging men to the ball, three chances fell to Corella in the first half and he was unable to take any. Before the half was out, Torrevieja were again breathing a huge sigh of relief as Novelda hit the post. A disputed free kick was delivered, a flicked header appeared from the mess of players in the box and the ball clipped the outside of the post and went wide.
By this point it was an excellent spectacle, both teams playing with energy, commitment and a huge desire for three points. The second half continued in the same vain, and with the introduction of Cristian for Brani just after the hour mark saw Torrevieja spring into real action. The left winger nearly scored with his first touch, a cross by Rafa Gomez arriving at the far post and Cristian’s shot was parried away. Minutes later he picked the ball up centrally and just ran. He drifted past three players in a matter of seconds but over 50 yards, that languid running style of his eating up the ground. The ball was released perfectly to Corella on the left and this looked like the chance to gain the initiative. No, it was control malo and Corella allowed the ball to run too wide to get a shot in, the chance disappeared.
Football can be a cruel game, just ask Burnley on Saturday. Torrevieja had their own feel for this as Novelda went up the other end from the breakdown of our chance and ended our play-off hopes. They attacked from their right, Ayo cutting inside and finishing into Oscar’s right hand corner.
The defeat means that the fat lady has just been given her final call and is making her way down to the stage. The band are just taking their seats and it will not be long until the music starts. Torrevieja now sit seven points off the final play-off spot and there are nine to play for. I am a positive person, stupidly so when it comes to football, but I get the feeling it isn’t going to happen now.