Second Division A - Day 21

Leaders Xerez were held to a 0-0 draw by bottom club Málaga B on Saturday evening, a result which nonetheless confirms the Andalusians top spot in the table at the halfway stage of the competition. Some 3,000 visiting fans made the short journey across Andalusia to urge their side on, but although they were on top for most of the game they were unable to find the net. Moreno fired over the top in the opening minutes and Camuñas shot straight at Manolo when alone in front of goal before the break, and the keeper did well to stop Iván Rosado near the end. Ríos and Guille also wasted chances, and the home side didn't really trouble Julio Iglesias until well in to the second half, when Abel tested him with a free kick. The hosts held on though to take their first point in six matches, although they still ended the day three points adrift of the pack.

Levante moved up to third pending Sunday's games with a 2-0 win over Lleida. The Valencia based side were lucky to be level at the break, Santos, Oscar and Bilic all wasting chances for the visitors and Juanlu hitting the bar. Carmelo headed the locals into the lead though in the second half following Ian Harte's cross, virtually their first effort on goal. And after Bilic had a penalty saved by Cavallero at the other end, Harte made it two with a well struck free kick. The result leaves the Catalans once again on the verge of the drop zone.

Real Murcia's new coach Sergio Kresic got off to a good start with a 1-0 win over Sporting Gijón. In fact it only took the locals twenty seconds or so before they got the goal, Julio Alvarez scoring in to an empty net after visiting keeper Roberto and his defender Juanmi bumped in to each other. Juan brought a spectacular save out of the other Juanmi at the other end soon afterwards, and Roberto made up for his early mistake keeping out Nacho Garro before the break. But the hosts had to fight tooth and nail to defend the three points in the second half, Pablo Alvarez and Enguix both failing to find the target as the Asturians went for broke.

Albacete made it two home wins in a row after beating Tenerife 3-2. Juanlu got on the end of Parri's cross to open the scoring in the third minute, but Toñito equalised with a little help from Bermejo when he headed in Cristian Alvarez's free kick on the half hour mark. Mingo was sent off a minute or so later with a straight red, but numbers were evened up almost immediately when Cocito was given a second booking. Parri restored the lead before the break with a free kick, and Bermejo made it three after the restart before Ayoze closed the gap to one goal again in the final minute. (21.01.06)

Valladolid held on to third spot after beating promotion rivals Elche 0-2 on Sunday lunchtime. Marcos Alonso's side took the lead in the ninth minute when Llorente controlled a loose ball on the edge of the area to beat Sergio Aragoneses, and Alvaro made it two ten minutes before the break when he picked up a pass from Capdevila to shoot through a sea of legs. Llorente could have scored a third before the break, and Yosu Uribe decided to ring the changes early in the second half, bringing on Rubén and Frankowski. They could do no more though, and the coach is now under pressure to turn things around quickly or move on.

Second placed Recreativo closed the gap on Xerez to three points after beating Hércules 1-0 on Sunday evening. The visitors had not won in seven games, but they could have taken the lead when Ramón cleared off the line from Sergio with Luque beaten. Gastón Casas put the Andalusians in front though with a half hit shot from Xavi Jiménez's assist, and the Argentine forward could have added a second after the restart. It was a first victory in four games for Marcelino's side, and the result keeps them six points ahead of the three sides immediately below them, Valladolid, Levante and Almería.

Almería themselves moved back up to fifth after ending Castellón's winning run with a 2-1 victory. The visitors had climbed out of the relegation zone after taking eleven points from their last five games, but they went behind when Jaime beat Oliva following Ortíz's corner. The hosts were left with ten men though when Crusat was shown a straight red card just a few minutes after the restart, and Jonan García made it all square after Raúl Sánchez had hit the bar. However Soriano got what was to prove the winner a couple of minutes later from Galca's cross, and although both sides rattled the woodwork later on there was no further score.

Gimnastic Tarragona moved up to seventh spot after beating Ciudad Murcia 2-0, their first home win since the end of October. The Catalans were well on top right from the start, with Diego Reyes missing an easy chance early on and Llera hitting the bar later in the first half. David Cuéllar also fired a shot against the crossbar after the restart, but it was not until the last five minutes or so that the goals came, Diego Torres getting on the end of Cuéllar's cross to score the opener and Bolo connecting with Ismael's cross to add the second in injury time.

Lorca are just a point and a place behind Nàstic after a 2-3 victory at Poli Ejido. The visitors went two up within the first half hour, Sava getting the first from the penalty spot after he himself was fouled, and Maldonado adding the second on a quick counter attack. Jauregui was in action after the break as the home side tried to get back in the game, but they lost Moreno to a second booking, and Xavi Moro made it three five minutes from the end. Pedro Vega got one back with a free kick though, and Keko converted a late penalty to set up an exciting last couple of minutes.

Castellón and Ejido ended the weekend down in the relegation zone, but at the midpoint of the season things are still very tight, with just one point separating five sides between the 16th and 20th places. Numancia climbed out of the bottom four after drawing 1-1 at Real Madrid Castilla, extending their unbeaten run to three games. Both goals came from the penalty spot, Soldado getting his eleventh of the season to move clear at the top of the Pichichi chart after the striker himself was fouled by Antonio in the twelfth minute, and Tevenet equalising twenty minutes later after Robles pulled back Miguel. Jurado and Del Pino both went close as the two sides tried for the victory in the final minutes.

Racing Ferrol are now three points clear of the drop zone after beating struggling Eibar 4-0. The Galicians went ahead in the ninth minute when Carlos took advantage of a loose ball following a corner. But although their opponents were left with nine men when Solabarrieta and Fagoaga were both sent off either side of half time, Juan Veiga's side couldn't add to their score until the last quarter of an hour, when Juanito set up Juan Carlos, Baha and then Nacho for them to beat Etxeberría three times in quick succession to wrap things up and keep the Basque side in next to bottom spot. (22.01.06)