Second Division B - play-offs, day 1

Both of the group champions’ play-offs ended in draws on Sunday, and everything will be decided next weekend in the return legs. As luck would have it, the two strongest sides Real Oviedo and Cádiz were paired together, and their first leg tie in a packed Carlos Tartière stadium finished with a 1-1 scoreline. Both had won their regional groups by a mile, but the Andalusians took the lead on the stroke of half time, Jona beating Esteban from Villar’s corner. Servando could have scored a second when he hit the post after the restart, but Aulestia had to push an effort from substitute Sergio García onto the woodwork, and with ten minutes to go Diego Cervero headed in a Borja Valle cross to level the scores. The other tie involved Huesca and Gimnàstic Tarragona, and there was relief in both dressing rooms when they heard that they had avoided the other two rivals. Nàstic (who also won their regional group by a big margin) will be the happier of the two though after their first meeting in the Alcoraz stadium ended without goals, especially as Huesca had not been beaten there in over 18 months.

A 0-0 draw as well between Real Unión and UCAM Murcia in Irún, local keeper Otermin the star of the match with a string of saves, in particular from striker Hugo Díaz. And Almería B and Guadalajara also drew 2-2, the two away goals giving the visitors the edge for the return match. Toledo headed the opener for them from Moyano’s cross with just over a minute on the clock, but Iván Sánchez levelled it soon afterwards from the penalty spot after keeper Kevin Ulbrich brought down Romera. With half an hour on the clock Puertas beat Kevin for a second time after he could only push out a shot from Romera, and Javi Pérez made it all square again midway through the second half after good work by Abel Molinero. For the record the federation have allowed Almería B to take part in the play-offs, even though they cannot be promoted as their first team have been relegated down to the second division A already. Finally the second of the relegation play-offs took place on Sunday, with Cartagena and Las Palmas Atlético (the Las Palmas B team) also drawing 0-0. The Canary Islanders will be content with the scoreline after Delgado was sent off for a second bookable offence with a quarter of the game still to go. (24.05.15)

The play-offs for promotion to the second division A began this weekend, with 16 teams vying for the four promotion spots. As in previous years, two of the places are reserved for the 2B regional group champions, the four of whom meet in direct play-offs over two legs, with the first legs taking place tomorrow. The other 12 teams have been paired up according to the position they finished in their group, with those finishing second playing those finishing fourth, and two ties matching up the third placed sides. The six winners of those ties join the two losing group champions in the semi-finals, with the four survivors of that round playing off for the last two promotion spots.

Four of those first leg games took place on Saturday, the most attractive of which seeing Hércules draw 1-1 with Real Murcia. Both clubs have a long history in the top flight, and the two were only relegated from the second division last season, Murcia in fact going down for financial irregularities despite finishing fourth in the table and taking part in the promotion play-offs. The Alicante based side took the lead, Javi Casares heading in a Rafita cross with five minutes to go to the break, but substitute Isi equalized for the visitors after a Javi Flores free kick came back off the upright some twenty minutes in to the second half. The wine region of La Rioja have not seen professional football in some time, but UD Logroñés made it into the play-offs this year, and they started their push for a return to the big time with a 1-1 draw against one of Spain’s newcomers, Huracán Valencia. Both goals came from the penalty spot, Menudo putting the locals ahead in the historic Las Gaunas stadium after Titi was fouled in the area just a minute into the second half, and Aridai made it all square after Tariq was brought down some twenty minutes later.

With Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid Castilla failing to make it to the top four of their group, only two B teams reached the knockout stage, those of Athletic Bilbao and Almería. The Basque side, known as Bilbao Athletic, have an uphill battle however after they lost 2-1 to Villanovense. Javi Sánchez opened the scoring for the Extremadura based side following a José Angel free kick just three minutes after the restart, and although Bengoa equailzed for the “Katxorros” after Lecue set him up, Espinar got on the end of a José Angel cross to score the winner with a quarter of an hour to go. Elsewhere Racing Ferrol beat Reus 1-0 to take the edge for the return leg, Nano getting the only goal for the Galicians midway through the first half following a corner. Ferrol last played in the second division in the 2008/9 season, whereas the Catalans are looking to win promotion to the “silver division” for the first time.

Two ties are also being played for the last two relegation spots between the four sides who finished fifth from bottom in their regional groups. Real Avilés (who were actually in the promotion play-offs last year) are already looking doomed though after they were beaten 1-4 by Eldense in their first leg tie. The Alicante based team went three up in the first quarter of an hour through Guardiola, Chupe and José Sánchez, and although Berna headed one back, Guardiola got his second of the evening shortly before half time. (23.05.15)