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Marbella earn valiant away point at Melilla

Lolo González challenges two opposition players for the ball.
Lolo González challenges two opposition players for the ball. / OPTA
  • The home side dominated for large parts of the game and had clear-cut opportunities in the first half in particular, but the visitors' defence held firm as they frustrated the hosts

Marbella's strong defensive performance earned them a 0-0 draw away at sixth-placed Melilla in a tactical battle at the Estadio Municipal Álvarez Claro. Melilla came away from the game disappointed after enjoying the lion's share of possession and chances in both halves.

The home side signalled their intent within three minutes of the first half when Jairo's strike from just outside the box crashed against Marbella goalkeeper Bernabé's post. Their domination continued as they controlled the game and moved the ball around the pitch better than their Marbella counterparts.

However, Medhi Nafti's side were clearly well-organised as they soaked up the pressure exerted on them by the hosts. Given their deep defensive line, Marbella would need an efficient outlet on the break, and Añón proved to be just that as he led the line brilliantly and was heavily involved in their best chance of the game.

In the 13th minute, a long throw-in from the right, which caused havoc amongst the Melilla defence, was met by the head of Añón, who saw his effort saved brilliantly by the diving Dani Barrio, before the Marbella forward smashed the rebound onto the woodwork.

Unfortunately for the visitors, it would be their only real chance of the game as Melilla once more began to assert their dominance. The game's most controversial moment came soon after, when Melilla's Pepe skipped past the challenges of a few Marbella defenders and crossed to Borja Prieto, whose right-foot shot hit the woodwork and bounced back down around the goal line.

Despite the protests from the Melilla players that the ball had indeed crossed the line, no goal was given. The hosts would have one more chance before the break, but Mahanan saw the offside flag raised against him from Kiu's free-kick.

Melilla carried on in the second half as they had for much of the first, but yet again crosses from both flanks proved fruitless, with Cubillas failing to get on the end of the best cross from the left. The hosts' frustrations forced them to attempt shots from long-distance, which yet again proved futile as Nando fired well over.

The sting seemed to vanish from Melilla's attacks as a combination of time wasting, which consequently slowed the pace of the game down, and staunch defence from the visitors ensured they coped with everything that Melilla could conjure up going forward.

The home side's frustration with Marbella's tactics in delaying the taking of goal kicks and throw-ins came to a climax when their goalkeeping coach Mohamed was sent off in the 73rd minute for protesting. Despite not affecting the numbers on the pitch, the sending off seemed to calm both sides down as they both seemed satisfied to take the point instead of taking the risk to try and find the winner.

Marbella remain third, four points behind Cartagena, who drew away at Granada CF B, but La Hoya Lorca extended their lead over the second-placed side to four points after a 2-1 home win against Jaén.

Marbella's next game sees them at home to tenth-placed Granada CF B, with kick off at 5pm on Sunday 12th March.