Sport » Soccer » Elche CF
ELCHE DRAW KEEPS HOPES ALIVE
John McGregor / 2012-03-25 11:46:06
Xerez 0 Elche 0 Difficult to say who wanted – or deserved – their point the most. At least Elche stopped the rot of a worrying three-match sequence of defeats, and kept their promotional dreams alive. Xerez? The Andalucian hosts were big-not-long-ago, but the team is currently going nowhere having an indifferent season down in 14th place.
In front of a sparse crowd of 6.052 at the hugely impressive Chapin stadium a make-do-and-mend Elche team fielded three centre backs, with Peligrin and Hector Verdes partnering each other, with the ever-present Etxeita pushed forward to presumably stiffen the midfield duo of Mantecon and Generelo (which needs stiffening!) with Kiki Mateo and Xumetra wide left and right. No place for top scorer Nikki Bille meant just lone striker Angel up front, Elche 4.5.1.
Only eight minutes had gone when Tajo burst clear but screwed his shot horribly wide. Offside for Xerez and Elche’s defence soon became an issue with a linesman who appeared confused about the rules, but the visitors survived a few scares.
Peligrin had a point-blank header from a Generelo corner well saved by an acrobatic Toni, and Angel is busting a gut to get back to his pre-new Year form when he was in form and his timing superb. He’s not quite there yet after his groin operation in January, but just after the half-hour the quicksilver striker ran down a long Hector Verdes clearance, got there just before defender and keeper Toni but the latter just touched his flick to safety.
Within a minute the lead could, and should have gone the other way when Elche’s right-back Flano tripped his man just inside the box (cue Generelo pointlessly protesting against a stonewall penalty). Once again this season Elche’s superb goalkeeper Juan Carlos saved the day, and the valuable point as it happened with a smart low save to his left from Redondo which was on its way inside the post. It should have been 1 – 1, but 0 – 0 it stayed at half-time – just!
Xerez started the second half as though they just come out of drama school, practising displaying intense pain, rolling around and writhing in agony from averagely-innocent Elche tackles (the Illicitanos can dish out the real thing when required,which mercifully wasn’t apparent on Saturday): the slightly-puzzled ref took no action either way on several such occasions.
Juan Carlos made another terrific double save following a Xerez free kick, although Elche probably had the better of another goalless half, with the usual yellow jaundice that is Elche, bookings for Etxeita, Peligrin and Hector Verdes, although Xerex kept their end up with two of their own. A draw was about right as a result, the game should have had goals but both keepers were on top form.
Where has all the confidence gone that swept Elche to the top of the table so impressively three months ago? Injuries to Palanca and Albacar who both give Elche width and options on the left, especially from free-kicks and corners in Albacar’s case are obvious pointers, but I prefer Ruper any day in midfield where a now-fit (and captain!) Generelo seems an automatic choice for coach Jose Bordelas: to me he is a liability who loses possession, pointlessly argues with referees incurring cards of both colours, and does not inspire confidence and leadership.
There, I’ve said it!
So – has the Elche rot stopped with this draw? No idea: the performance was not impressive against an unconvincing Xerez side, and the Franjiverdes will be given a good test against a going-nowhere Huesca side at home next Saturday at 6pm. See you there?