The first legs of the semi-final play-offs took place on Sunday, with all four ties decided by a single goal. Both of the group champions who lost in last week’s matches though were defeated, Racing Santander in particular beaten 1-0 at Cádiz. Güiza and Servando tested visiting keeper Santiago as the Andalusians had the better of the first half, but Cifuentes had to keep out Oscar after the restart. With twenty minutes to go however the locals were awarded a penalty when Lolo Pla was brought down in the area, and David Sánchez stepped up to fire home the resulting spot kick. Real Madrid Castilla also lost 1-0 at Lleida Esportiu, the only goal coming in the seventh minute when Oscar Vega beat Carlos Abad with an overhead kick. Mariano, Febas, Mayoral and Llorente all tested Crespo at the other end before the break, but Diego Suárez hit the post for the locals after the interval, and Castilla ended with ten men after Alex Salto was sent off for a second bookable offence with a quarter of an hour to go.
Hércules meanwhile took a big step towards a return to the second division, a 0-1 victory at Toledo giving them the edge going in to next week’s return match. Both teams had chances throughout, but Chechu won it for the Alicante based side (who had Alvaro sent off later on), beating substitute keeper Manolo on a quick breakaway with just under twenty minutes to go. Sevilla Atlético are also on track towards a place in the finals after they won 0-1 at UD Logroñés, Borja Lasso firing home the winner after good work by Ivi later on in the second half. The youngsters last played in the second division some eight years ago.
Reus and UCAM Murcia were both promoted for the first time in their history after winning their group champions play-offs last weekend, but they still had to face off for the honorary title of second division B champions. There was a festival atmosphere at Reus for the first leg, both coaches giving a run out to some of their lesser used players, but the crowd had to make their own entertainment as the match ended in a dull 0-0 draw. The return leg will be played in Murcia next Wednesday. (05.06.16)