Second Division A - Day 22

A thrilling match at Valdebebas, where leaders Xerez were beaten 4-3 by Real Madrid Castilla. The locals were two up at the break with De la Red opening the scoring early on with a low shot, and Selu turning Felipe's cross in to his own net on the stroke of half time. The defender made up for his mistake though after the break, setting up Guille to pull one back and then heading home Ismael's free kick to level the scores on the hour mark. Castilla could have been left with ten men when Soldado was shown a second yellow card for diving, but the referee changed his mind at the behest of a linesman and the striker was allowed to stay on. Soon afterwards though, Xerez substitute Camuñas won the ball off Rubén and helped himself to a third goal, putting Lucas Alcaraz's side into the lead for the first time. But it was still not over, and the home side turned the scoreline around once again in the last four minutes, De la Red getting his second of the night with a volley and Jurado firing a shot past Julio Iglesias (curiously the namesake of a somewhat more famous Real Madrid B goalkeeper turned singer), who up until the start of the match was topping the second division "Zamora" table.

The other three games on Saturday evening only produced two goals between them, and all ended in draws. Levante moved up to third pending Sunday's matches after a 0-0 result at Poli Ejido, although in the end they were lucky to come away with a point after the home side failed to convert their chances. Visiting keeper Cavallero was the best man on the park, saving from Víctor Salas and Sunday in the opening minutes and Keko and Moreno after the restart, and Salas had a goal disallowed for offside close to the interval. Mané's side only caused any problems with a dangerous Harte free kick in the first half and another effort from the Irishman after the break which Kike punched away, and the locals could have won it had Tena's header not come back off the bar later on.

Gimnastic Tarragona missed out on a chance to move in to the promotion spots after they too draw 0-0 at home to Tenerife. The Catalans started the day just two points off the promotion spots, and they got off to a frenetic start with Ekpoki in particular testing Keleman a couple of times. The Nigerian striker had a penalty appeal turned down when felled by Bertín close to half time, and Merino and Pinilla both went close after the interval. The Canary Islanders had their chances as well though, particularly in the second half when Angel failed to take advantage of a mistake by keeper Alvaro. Almirón headed wide a Cristian Alvarez free kick, and Alvaro did well to turn another free kick from Vázquez against the post near the end.

Málaga B and Hércules also shared the points in a 1-1 scoreline. Both sides had not won since the end of November, but the locals had the better of the first half with Pina and Abel bringing good saves out of new signing Jimmy Schmidt. Juan Carlos Mandía brought on another of his winter acquisitions Carlitos on the hour mark, and a few minutes later the ex Sevilla forward set up Toché for him to open the scoring. That sparked off a flurry of activity, Shmidt saving from Diego Castro and his opposite number Manolo doing likewise from Carlitos before Andreu levelled the scores with an impressive shot from way outside of the area. (28.01.06)

Recreativo moved up level on points with Xerez after beating Ciudad Murcia 1-0 on Sunday evening. The freezing rain made playing conditions difficult, and there were very few chances throughout the game. Iban Espadas had an effort blocked for the visitors early on, and Casas and Rosu went close at the other end before the break. Local defender Ramón almost put through his own net when he hit the post trying to clear after the restart, but in the end the Andalusians came away with the three points after Gastón Casas crossed in for Barber to score the only goal seven minutes from the end. The result means that the top two have opened up an eight point gap on the rest.

It seems nobody wants that other promotion spot though, and Lorca were the only one of eight chasing sides to win this weekend. Their 0-3 victory over Racing Ferrol takes them up to fifth spot, only a point outside of the top three. Gorka De Carlos intercepted a back pass to open the scoring for the Murcia based side with a quarter of an hour on the clock, and although Beranger and Carlos both tested Jauregui, Maldonado made it two shortly before half time after another lapse by the defence. Sava wasted two chances to increase the lead in the second half, but De Carlos wrapped things up with a third goal on a rapid counterattack to hand the Galicians their first defeat in ten games.

Valladolid squeezed back up above Levante to third after drawing 2-2 at Real Murcia. Marcos Alonso's side were in control for much of the game, and after Llorente and Sousa went close, Sousa took advantage of a bad clearance by Juanmi to put them ahead. Carrera shot wide twice and Iván Alonso brought a good save out of Bizzarri before half time, and Nacho Garro levelled the scores after picking up an overhead pass from Richi just two minutes after the restart. For a short while the locals were on top, Bizzarri saving again from Iván Alonso and Richi heading against the bar. Capdevila restored the lead though against the run of play, but Murcia saved a point when Diego Alonso headed home a Julio Alvarez free quick a quarter of an hour before the final whistle.

Almería's good run seems to have come to an end, and they were beaten 1-2 by an improving Numancia. Visiting keeper Juan Pablo had to be at his best to save from Francisco early on, but Montenegro put the Soria based side ahead midway through the first half with a shot from the edge of the area. The visitors were left with ten men though when Tevenet picked up a second booking around half time, and the home side took advantage to equalise when Antonio turned Soriano's cross in to his own net. But with the game in injury time late substitutes Azkorra and Jordi Navas combined for the latter to head the former's cross past Valerio.

Elche only managed to salvage a late 1-1 draw at home to next to bottom side Eibar, a result which cost the job of local coach Yosu Uribe the following day. The visitors went ahead in the twelfth minute when Azkoitia beat Sergio Aragoneses after the defence failed to clear a cross from the left. Nino (who had had a penalty appeal turned down in the opening minutes) brought a good save out of Etxeberría, but Aragoneses was also in action at the other end, making a spectacular save from a Jaime free kick. Uribe brought on Phillipe Toledo at the break for his debut, and the young striker headed an equaliser from a Luis Gil cross twenty minutes from the end. But despite throwing everything forward they were unable to add to their score, and ended the day down in the ninth spot.

The fight to avoid relegation is warming up, Lleida pulling out of the bottom four after a 0-3 win at fellow strugglers Castellón, who ended the weekend just a place above Málaga B. Pepe Moré's side got off to a promising start, Raúl Sánchez heading just over with less than a minute on the clock, but Bilic put the visitors ahead shortly before half time after Juanlu set him up, and the Croatian striker took advantage of a mistake by the defence to make it two soon after the restart. Jonan García had a goal disallowed and half time substitute Kenji Fukuda hit the bar as the hosts tried to fight back, but Nakor ran on to a pass from Povedano to settle things in the final minute.

Albacete and Sporting Gijón should have played at mid-day on Sunday, but the game was called off in the morning due to freezing temperatures and a heavy snowfall the night before. (29.01.06)

Albacete beat 1-0 Sporting Gijón in their rescheduled match which was postponed from a couple of weeks ago due to a heavy snowfall. The Manchegans took the lead on the half hour mark after Sastre was sent off for a second bookable offence for a foul in the area on Juanlu, Roberto saving Mario Bermejo's kick but the striker scoring on the follow up. Seconds earlier Enguix had hit the post at the other end, but the visitors hardly troubled Rubén Martín after that. Juanlu and Gato could have increased the lead when they both hit the woodwork either side of half time, and Roberto made another good save from Bermejo late on. But Albacete had done enough to record their fourth win in a row, and despite their poor start to the season they are now up to seventh in the table. (15.02.06)