SANTA POLA CF – 1 CD THADER ROJALES – 1
BY STEVE HIBBERD
Without goal line technology being available to Preferente league football here in Spain, a crucial decision of ‘did it or did it not cross the line’, was left to an assistant referee.
Santa Pola sub Charly had only been on the field for 10 mins, but when his shot hit the post, then rolled along the goal line, Sergio was on hand to smother the ball.
But, the big question was whether or not Thader’s goalie had dragged the ball from behind the line or not? A raised flag indicated that he had, and although Sergio and his colleagues surrounded the linesman (in old terms), the referee pointed to the centre circle.
So, for the first time this season, Thader finished the match all square. On balance of play, a draw was probably a fair result, but up to this match changing incident on 86 mins, Thader looked set to nick a hard fought 3 points.
The first half was dire. It really was. Santa Pola had strong appeals for a penalty on 5 mins, following what appeared to be a push by Lloyd on an opponent inside the box, but the ref was unimpressed.
Sergio got down well on 8 mins to block a fierce close-range effort, then from the rebound a further shot was cleared off the line. A scrappy 45 mins involved few chances, with neither keeper having to work up a sweat.
As the players came out for the 2nd half, I couldn’t help notice how well maintained the Manolo Macia Stadium pitch appeared. Straight from the kick off, Thader sub Calderon shot straight at the keeper from close range, when a better first touch would surely have produced a goal.
Thader were on the ascendancy, and on the hour mark, a well-placed assist by Dani Lucas to Quino, saw the striker’s fierce drive tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner, an unmarked Lloyd headed firmly into the back of the net, to give his side the lead. Lloyd almost turned from hero to villain in the space of a few minutes, for he deflected a shot onto his own cross bar, then from the rebound, Sergio made another important save.
Nano should have doubled his side’s lead on 70 mins, but when through on goal, he blasted over from 10 yards. Up the other end on 80 mins, a free kick by Santa Pola to the far post, was headed into the side netting by Paloma.
Apart from the equalising goal, the remaining few minutes of normal, plus 8 mins of stoppage time, belonged to the visitors. First sub Kike shot wide, then a goal line clearance with seconds left, prevented Thader returning home victorious.
Going into next weekend’s match away at 8th place Novelda, Thader sit 9th in the table on 13 points, having played 11 games.