Second Division A - Day 17

Xerez returned to the top of the table pending Recreativo's game on Sunday with a 0-1 win over Real Murcia. Camuñas got the only goal of the game in the first minute, latching on to a loose ball in the area to beat Juanmi. And although most of the play after that was in the visitors' half of the field, the locals were unable to find a way through a well ordered defence. Only an effort from Richi shortly before the break caused any problems for Julio Iglesias in the first 45 minutes, and the visiting keeper saved a Julio Alvarez penalty soon after restart when Dani Pendín fouled Acciari. Cousins Iván and Diego Alonso both had chances after that without success, and Guille could have increased the lead late on had he been abole to beat Juanmi.

It was another low scoring day though, with only six goals being scored in the seven games which kicked off on Saturday. Levante and Sporting Gijón both started their match with a chance to move up in to the promotion spots, but in the end neither could catch third placed Valladolid after drawing 0-0. Both sides abandoned the attractive football they have been playing this season to defend, and the only incidents of note before the break were a couple of efforts from Gerardo and Pablo Alvarez for the Asturians. Riga woke the game up after the break, and could have scored two or three times had Roberto not been on good form in the visiting goal, but in the end both sides settled for a point.

Two of the teams relegated from last season, Albacete and Numancia, also cancelled each other out in another scoreless draw. Both sides are languishing down in the lower reaches of the table this year, and neither made much impression on a cold Manchegan night. Mario Bermejo could have given the hosts the lead shortly before the break, but the referee incorrectly ruled out his strike for a non existent offside. And both had penalty appeals turned down, after the restart, the first when local keeper Rubén Martín brought down Pineda, and later on when the ball struck Palacios on the arm.

Real Madrid Castilla took advantage to move up in to the top half of the table with a 0-1 win at Málaga B, a result which left the home team down in the bottom four. Playing a day before their first teams, both "B" sides put out strong line ups. It was the visitors who had the best chances in the first half though, Soldado and Balboa both going close before Jurado picked up a pass from Jotha to open the scoring just before the break. The Andalusians were left with ten men immediately after the restart when Ador picked up a second booking, and only local keeper Javi Muñoz prevented the scoreline from getting any bigger.

Three sides are level with the Málaga B though, including Lleida and Eibar, who also drew 0-0 on the night. It was a typical clash of two sides in the bottom half of the table, with a lot of physical play and not much football. Only a Sergio Rodríguez free kick for the locals and an effort from Azkoitia at the other end caused any problems for either keeper in the first 45 minutes, although the visitors had the better of the second half and substitute Lezaun hit the post near the end.

Racing Ferrol stay in next to bottom spot, albeit level with the three teams above them, after sharing the points in a 1-1 draw with Ciudad Murcia earlier in the evening. The Galicians had not won at home since late September, but thet took the lead on the half hour mark when Carlos finished off after Juan Carlos had mis-hit a Granon free kick. Up to that point though local keeper Bouchard had been the busiest man on the field, and Ciudad equalised four minutes in to the second half when Goitom picked up a pass from Falcón to run on and score. The Swedish striker hit the post in the closing minutes, but only a couple of key saves by Jaime from Baha and Arnal stopped the hosts from stealing away the three points in injury time.

Poli Ejido move away from the danger zone though, their 2-0 victory over Tenerife taking them above the Canary Islanders in the table. The Andalusians had won their last two games and they completely dominated the first half, Calado and Víctor Salas both testing Bernardo early on, and Keko heading against the post with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock. Keko headed the locals in to the lead from Pedro Vega's cross on the half hour mark, and Salas hit the woodwork again before Pedro Largo headed home a corner on the stroke of half time. Christian did test Kike with a free kick after the restart, but red cards for Cocito and coach Antonio López a quarter of an hour from the end ended any hope of a come back. Tenerife have now not won for ten matches in a row, and the club is in turmoil. (17.12.05)

Recreativo moved back above Xerez on goal difference after beating Almería 2-0 on Sunday evening to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games. The Huelva based side took some time to get going though, and the visitors could have gone ahead had Lozano not shot wide early on and had Luque not saved from Crusat later in the first half. The turning point of the game though came ten minutes after the restart, when Xavi Jiménez cleared an effort from Francisco off the line and then ran up the other end to combine with Uche and put his side in front. Paco Flores brought on Uche's brother Kalu and another attacker soon after the goal, but they could make no inroads and Recre wrapped things up near the end when Gastón Casas got on the end of Galván's through ball to make it two.

The top two open up a seven point gap over third placed Valladolid, who lost 2-0 to Lorca. The home side dominated the match early on, Alexandre and De Carlos both rattling the woodwork before Alves opened the scoring after Sava set him up. De Carlos should have increased the lead from the penalty spot after Alexandre was fouled five minutes before the break, and although Bizzarri saved his spot kick, the striker made up for it with a second goal a couple of minutes later after picking up a pass from Alexandre. There was still time for another penalty before the half time whistle, this time at the other end after Iñaki Bea fouled Tote, but debutant keeper Orlando Quintana also saved Tote's kick. The visitors threw everything forward after Alexandre was sent off for a heavy tackle almost immediately after the restart, but numbers were evened up when Carmona received and second booking, and Valladolid ended with nine men after Víctor was also sent off with a straight red a quarter of an hour from the end. It was a first defeat in twelve games for Marcos Alonso's side, but they stay in the promotion spots after none of the six teams immediately below them were able to win.

Elche and Hércules were two of those teams, and they cancelled each other out a 1-1 draw on Sunday lunchtime. It was, as they say, a game of two halves, with the locals on top at the beginning. Frankowski put them in front midway through the half after latching on to a loose ball to beat Sergio Sánchez after Cachorro's cross was blocked. But shortly before the interval Noguerol brought down Moisés in the area, and the ex Elche striker beat Sergio Aragoneses both times in a twice taken penalty. After that the Alicante based side were on top, although Elche came closest to scoring near the end when Pere Martí went close and Sánchez saved well from Frankowski. Their manager Yosu Uribe wasn't there to see it though as he had already been shown a second yellow card for protesting.

Gimnastic Tarragona also failed to take advantage of the slip ups of the teams above them, and they remain in mid-table after drawing 1-1 at home to bottom club Castellón. The Catalans tested their ex keeper Oliva three times in the opening minutes, but the visitors went ahead in the tenth minute when Raúl Sánchez played Casablanca's cross on for Jonan García to score. After that it was all Nàstic, but despite hitting the bar they were unable to break through an increasingly packed defence, Bolo, Reyes, Marco and Ekpoki all going close. With eight minutes to go though Ismael "Irurzun" ran on to a long ball to beat Oliva and equalise. It was their first home goal in four games, but still left them feeling they could have done better. (18.12.05)