Albacete trip yields a well-earned point

Numancia fight out scoreless draw with third-placed Albacete

Numancia earned a point in their visit to the Carlos Belmonte. López Garai’s players fought out a goalless draw with Albacete and, in doing so, put a halt to the negative trend in recent games and somewhat restored the serious, firm image the team had shown at other moments throughout the season when they were capable of going to places like Pamplona, La Coruña, Granada or Gijón and coming back with a point. This point may turn out to be important, it having been earned at the home of a candidate for one of the direct promotion spots and therefore will give the team back some of the confidence and self-esteem that have been lost over the luckless last month and a half.

The coming games will be crucial in deciding the fate of the Numantinos this season, and indeed whether they keep their second-tier status. The next one up is the clash with mid-table Alcorcón at Los Pajaritos next week.

In the first half, both sides chose safety at the back, and neither gave much thought to producing fluent, bright, attacking play. There was a lot at stake for both contenders here, and that was noticeable in the play they produced. Safe passes, balls that were more horizontal than vertical, few risks taken.

Albacete took the initiative, but the Sorianos defended in an orderly fashion. The first chance fell to Acuña early on, but his slightly forced shot went way over Juan Carlos’ crossbar. At the other end, Nacho tried his luck by means of a good move down the left wing, but there was nobody on the end of his cross who was able to finish.

With their backs well covered, Albacete had several long-range attempts, but could not hit the target, while Numancia looked more to set pieces. A couple of corners and one or two free-kicks swung in from the wings presented little danger for Tomeu Nadal in the Albacete goal, and there was a direct free-kick taken by Ganea that went slightly wide.

After the restart, things continued much the same. Albacete controlled play and had much more of the ball than the Rojillos, but failed to pose much danger for the visitors, who did a good job in shutting down the hosts’ playmakers and putting in the necessary running.

The pressure started to take its toll on the players as the minutes ticked by and several had to be substituted after they had practically run themselves into the ground. Febas and Acuña went off with muscle fatigue, as did Higinio and Ganea. Even Nacho went down with an injury late on, but with all three changes already made, Numancia had no choice but to limp on until the end.

After six nail-biting minutes of stoppage time, and an excellent intervention by Juan Carlos in a one-on-one with Tejero with barely two minutes left, the game came to an end and the players trudged off to the dressing rooms having shared the points. Both teams will now have to keep fighting in their remaining fixtures, though their objectives are totally different.

Albacete Balompié: Tomeu Nadal, A Tejero, A. Arroyo, Gentiletti, Fran García, Febas (Malsa, m. 61), Barri, Susaeta (Álvaro Peña, m. 61), Bela, Eugeni, Acuña (Rey Manaj, m. 74).

C.D. Numancia: Juan Carlos, Derik, Carlos Gutiérrez, Atienza, Ganea (Luis Valcarce, m. 80), Escassi, Gus Ledes, Fran Villalba, David (Guillermo, m. 67), Higinio (Yeboah, m. 77), Nacho.

Referee: Trujillo Suárez (Canary Islands Committee) Assisted by Sánchez Rojo and Estela Bravo. Yellow cards for Albacete’s manager, Ramis and Gentiletti and Barri, and for Numancia’s Nacho, Carlos Gutiérrez and Gus Ledes.

Goals: None.

Carlos Belmonte: 11,456

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