Three more games at the tail end of January and beginning of February, with golazos, controversy and late drama aplenty.
Game 23: Recreativo 2-0 Badajoz (Estadio Nuevo Colombino, Huelva- 21.1.2018)
Without a win since November, things had swiftly gone south for Recre following the initial good run that Angel López’s promotion to the hot seat had brought. Level on points with their opponents going into the game, this was a valuable opportunity to put some daylight between them and the relegation battle.
Jose Carlos Lazo got things off to a great start with an expertly-placed free kick on 10 minutes and for once, Recre looked to press home their advantage and really should have been further ahead at the break. Their opponents were very poor, lacking imagination when they got the ball in the final third and Marc Martinez was never really threatened.
But with the margin at only one goal and Recre’s capacity for self-destruction still on the table, a second goal was needed to make the game safe but they made their fans wait, with sub Gorka Santamaría laying the ball on a plate for Boris to poke home.
Game 24: Granada 2-1 Tenerife (Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, Granada – 3.2.2018Where to start with this one? It was a bitterly cold night in Granada (later temperatures would drop below freezing) and sadly the stadium was sparsely populated, most of the seats around me were vacant, with the official attendance announced as just over 9,000, less than half of the stadium’s capacity. But it was well worth going as I saw two of the best goals, I’ve seen in person all season and one of them is maybe even a contender for the best I’ve ever seen.
Darwin Machis got the ball rolling with a wonderful curling shot to put the hosts in front, but that paled into insignificance next to Sergio Peña’s goal a few minutes later. A lob which caught out the Tenerife goalkeeper with a Roberto Carlos vs France- amount of curl on it, it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve watched it three or four times daily since then.
Granada looked pretty secure in their lead until the final ten minutes when Peña again took centre stage. He was being subbed off and paused to take in the standing ovation from the crowd, only for the referee to take exception to this and show him a second yellow card for time-wasting. And of course a previously anaemic Tenerife grabbed a goal soon after and we were treated to a barnstorming finish.
Not a bad way to bring up my 20th different Spanish League ground!
Game 25: Recreativo 1-2 Lorca Deportivo (Estadio Nuevo Colombino, Huelva – 4.2.2018)
When Recre are good, they’re capable of beating anyone in this league, but when they’re bad, there’s no limit to how low they can sink.
On paper, a home game against the bottom club in the league should be relatively straightforward, but this is Recre. Nothing is straightforward. They did start well though, a brilliant strike from Jose Carlos Lazo made me think that my decision to race back from Granada to make the game was a good one. Conceding an equaliser before the break wasn’t in the script and neither was the uninspiring slog through the second half in search of another goal.
With unwelcome shades of the pre-Christmas game against Jumilla, the visitors got under Recre’s skin with their time-wasting and breaking up play and the frustration began to grow, both on the pitch and in the stands. Late on, poor defending gifted them an opening, Marc Martinez in the Recre goal saved, but made a rash decision to come off his line and go for the loose ball and their captain, right back Luismi, managed to get there first and squeeze the ball past the covering defender on the line and then, somewhat unwisely, decided to celebrate with a knee-slide/badge kiss/chest beating combo in front of the Recre Ultras.