It was a bad day at the office for Marbella on Sunday as they fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Mérida, a setback in their fight for automatic promotion in a weekend when their direct competitors played eachother.
It started well for the Costa side, though, and they gained ground on their opponents with some impressive wing play, pegging back the Mérida full-backs. Goti had the first attempt, lashing his effort across the face of goal before Kike Márquez, after leaving three defenders in his wake, forced Mandaluniz into a good stop.
Despite the territorial advantage, Marbella found themselves behind just 18 minutes into the contest when their former player Paco Aguza, found himself free at the back post and connected with Óscar Rico's lofted freekick from the left flank.
The setback didn't stop the visitors who continued with their game plan which kept Mérida on the back foot. But the hosts struck back in almost identical fashion, Rico crossing for Aguza at the back post - goal.
After this goal, Marbella heads dropped and the good work of Mehdi Nafti's side soon turned to frustration at the lack of end product.
The second half was much of the same, with Marbella good in possession, but lacking convinction as they approached goal. In fact, the best chance they could muster came through Andrés who hit a speculative effort over the bar.
The final nail in the coffin came in stoppage time when David Álvarez, with a free header from the corner, nodded past Bernabé from barely a yard out.
Cartagena's 1-0 victory over Lorca CF means this was an opportunity missed to go joint-top. Instead, Nafti's side are three points adrift of the two leaders in third place with set-piece defending on the agenda for training this week.