The Rojillos won a highly emotional game in front of over 1000 fans to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation with one match remaining.
Up until Sunday SD Tenisca were the only side in Spain to have never been relegated from the Tercera Division. The La Palma side has suffered problems this season especially from September until December during the volcanic eruptions on their island. Many of their matches were cancelled because of this and their fixture list became heavily congested and this is one of several reasons why their 43 years in Spain’s fourth tier has come to an end.
Before kickoff defender Matheus was awarded Player of the Season by the fans and was presented with the trophy from last season’s winner and Rojillo legend Rosmen along with club director David Timmons.
The game was decided by a single goal and fittingly it was scored by the Rojillo captain Ayoze Pérez who rolled back the years and put in a man of the match master class performance guiding his side to victory.
The possession of the ball in the opening stages was fairly even but it was the Rojillos who created the better chances. In the 13th minute defender Raúl had a snapshot from 10 yards but the ball agonizingly went inches wide of the bottom right hand post.
It’s been no secret that Lanzarote´s problems this season has been scoring goals. All the main strikers have been injured with Traore and Alyson being out for several months. Before kickoff centre forward Di Renzo had a late fitness test following his hamstring injury and he was named in the starting line up alongside the exciting Brazilian teenager Alyson.
This was a gamble from the Lanzarote manager and fortunately the luck that had been eluding him for months returned for the final home match of the season as his gamble paid dividends. In the 18th minute both players combined setting up a strike for Alyson but his effort cleared the crossbar by a foot or two, nevertheless it was great to see the front two players creating an opportunity and causing huge concern in the La Palma defence.
Livewire Alyson was a constant threat to the La Palma defence and in the 37th minute he skipped past a defender but his strike at goal from the edge of the area was blocked. Quickest to react was Ayoze Pérez and he fired a left foot shot wide of the Tenisca keeper to score one of his most important goals ever whilst wearing the Lanzarote shirt. This priceless goal sent his team into the break with the 1-0 advantage.
Lanzarote were desperate to find that second goal cushion and only three minutes into the second period and they had a glorious chance to do so. Dani González fired the ball low across the penalty area from the right, Alyson just failed to connect though Miguel Gopar came in at the far post and from 12 yards blasted a low strike which the keeper saved with his feet.
Shortly after, the visitors unusually caught the Rojillo defence napping. From a deep corner kick unmarked at the far post was Matías but to the relief to most people in the stadium his volley went narrowly past the near post.
Tenisca were in the same situation as Lanzarote knowing that only a win would give them any chance of remaining in this division and began to take risks.
Lanzarote may have had their troubles in front of goal this season but their defence is the best in the league conceding the least amount of goals than any other club. The Rojillos looked reasonably comfortable and one did feel that it was only a matter of time until Lanzarote would hit them on the break and score that second goal.
In the 81st minute the La Palma side were awarded a free kick only 20 yards out from the Rojillo goal. The ball was hit with power and bend by striker Adán and looked destined to nestle into the top left hand corner. Keeper Ruymán was at full stretch and superbly managed to get a strong hand to the ball to maintain his sides lead as well as keeping his side in the Tercera division.
With just minutes remaining Lanzarote were awarded a corner kick. Ayoze Pérez characteristically whipped the ball in the six yard box, Matheus timed his run to perfection and beat the keeper to the ball powering his header into the roof of the net and looked to have given his side a 2-0 lead. For some unknown reason the referee blew for a foul on the keeper, a decision which I am sure that the official will be embarrassed with after watching a replay as Matheus did not touch the Tenisca goalkeeper.
There were four painful minutes of added on time by the official but then finally that beautiful sound of the final whistle filled the air and you could just sense that the heartbeat from the Lanzarote supporters once again begin to tick.
This is a wonderful win but Lanzarote now must travel to Gran Canaria on Wednesday where they will face the already relegated side CF Unión Viera at 8.30pm. Even a win for the Rojillos will not guarantee safety as in the Spanish lower leagues promotion and relegations are not straightforward.
Lanzarote have moved out of the automatic relegation positions and up two places to 12th spot. Currently there are five Canarian sides in the relegation positions in the league above and if they were all relegated then more teams would drop from Lanzarote´s league. This could be eased if any of the teams in the playoffs were promoted and there are also other circumstances which may only be resolved once the playoffs have finished.
It is quite possible that six teams will be relegated and Lanzarote are currently that sixth team from the bottom. The two teams directly above Lanzarote CD Marino and UD Villa Santa Brígida have matches that they should win.
The side that does look vulnerable is 9th placed side CD Herbania. Up until last week the Fuerteventura side looked a good bet for a playoff spot but in this tipsy topsy league they now go into their last match needing a win to guarantee safety. They have home advantage but they are up against CD Atlético Paso who will be desperate for a win to claim the only automatic promotion position. Should this game end in a draw and Lanzarote win then the Rojillos would move above them. Both sides will be looking for the win.
It’s a fascinating end to the league season but the only thing Lanzarote will be concerned about is a win on Wednesday evening beginning at 8.30pm. I will be at this match and updating the score on Facebook page Lanzarote football club as the game progresses.
1-0 min 37 Ayoze Pérez