Marbella gained a hard-earned point in front of a season-record home crowd when they took on promotion rivals Extremadura on Sunday. Some 2,500 people watched on as the hosts managed to peg back the away team, despite a string of refereeing decisions going against them.
The first came in just the tenth minute when Catena's climb was adjudged to be a foul and Extremadura had an early penalty, despite a number of similar incidents that went unpunished in the middle of the field. Former home favourite Kike Márquez stepped up and scored, with the help of the inside of the post, and riled the Marbella ultras in the corner of the ground by celebrating in front of them as though he had scored the winner in a cup final.
The hosts didn't shrink away but did grow frustrated at the lack of protection from the referee in the face of some robust challenges from Extremadura. In fact, subsitute Juanfran received a red card for his protests from the bench, increasing the heat on referee Lax Franco.
The crowd raised the volume further when Aitor handled the ball on two occasions to thwart Rioja without even a freekick awarded.
The first half saw chances for both sides. Zarfino could have doubled the visitors' lead but his effort was blocked at the near post by Wilfred. At the other end, Corpas went down under a push in the area but a penalty was not rewarded.
At the break, Marbella coach Fernando Estévez made a decisive change, bringing off winger Alonso and replacing him with Chus Hevia up front. His side took the game to Extremadura but left gaps at the back and just as it looked like the visitors would score on the counterattack, Marbella got their own chance from 12 yards when Borja upended Ferrón, receiving his marching orders in the process.
Indiano converted the spotkick and with ten minutes left on the clock and Marbella could have bagged the winner but for Chus Hevia dragging his effort wide in stoppage time.
Marbella remain in third place, just a point behind Sunday's rivals and four behind league leaders Cartagena. Los Blanquillos travel to San Fernando this Sunday.