The second division B play-offs began this week, with four sides to be promoted out of the 16 clubs involved. The changes introduced last season continue in to this, with the four regional group champions meeting over two legs to decide two of the promotion places. Southern group champions Granada got off to a good start with a 2-0 victory over Alcorcón, the team which came to fame this season after knocking Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey. Nigerian youth international Ighalo got the first with twenty minutes to go, and veteran defender Iván Amaya headed the second from a corner just three minutes later. And Ponferradina are in line for a quick return to the second division after a 0-1 win against Sant Andreu in the other final. The Barcelona based side had Rueda sent off on the hour mark, and the visitors took advantage to score ten minutes later through ex Racing Santander midfielder Jonathan Valle.
The two losers of the champions' finals will join the six survivors of the first play-off round for the remaining two promotion spots. Two of those games took place on Saturday, with ex first division side Oviedo losing 2-1 to Pontevedra. The Galicians had just squeezed past Alavés on the last day to take fourth place in their group, and they went ahead through Iban Espadas in only the seventh minute. Perona equalised for the visitors six minutes in to the second half, but Igor restored the lead later on. Palencia have been one of the revelation sides this season after coming up from the regional third division, and they have a good chance of making it through to the next round after holding Jaén to a 1-1 draw. Esparza gave the Andalusians the lead from the penalty spot midway through the second half, but De Paula scored an important away goal six minutes later.
FC Barcelona's B side Barcelona Athletic are also on track for a place in the last eight after a 3-3 draw at Poli Ejido. The locals only made it to the play-offs after a decision to dock points for fielding an ineligible player was overturned, taking them back above Ceuta, who would otherwise be playing in their place. However they were lucky to come out of the game with a draw after Benja gave Luis Enrique's team the lead three times, Cañadas, Raúl Sánchez and Pichardo cancelling out the goals each time. Ceuta of course is one of the two Spanish enclaves in North Africa, and the team from the other enclave Melilla lost 1-0 to Universidad Las Palmas in their play-off tie. Juanfran got the only goal for the Canary Islanders three minutes after the break, although it was only thanks to a great performance by visiting keeper Dorronsoro that they didn't win by a bigger margin.
Eibar are hoping to return to the second division at the first attempt after they went down last season, and they have the edge over Alcoyano after a 0-0 draw in the Valencia based town of Alcoy. The locals had the better chances but they were unable to get past a well-ordered defence. Just down the road Ontinyent had better luck than their neighbours with a 2-0 victory over Guadalajara, Montañés getting the opener ten minutes before the interval and David Torres adding the second with just under an hour on the clock.
The four teams who finished fifth from bottom in their respective groups also have to play-off to avoid relegation. Roquetas have the advantage over Toledo after winning the first leg 1-0, Sierra getting the only goal midway through the first half. And Guijuelo are close to staying up after they drew 2-2 at Espanyol B, an Iturralde penalty and a strike from Ubis in the last half hour saving the day after Tal and Luismi had put the Catalans two up. (16.05.10)