In the picturesque setting of seaside town Patacona (not dissimilar to Guardamar), Thader came so very close to forcing extra time.  This Preferente league play off semi-final 2nd leg, was finely poised, with the hosts taking a one goal advantage from last week’s match at Rojales.

The local council had paid for 2 coaches to take players and fans up to Valencia, for this hugely important fixture.  On the supporters coach, there wasn’t a spare seat to be found, in fact, one ticketless fan had to be turned away.  A pleasant mix of local Spanish and Brits made the long journey to the north of the province, one to remember!   By the time we reached our destination, I was not only ready for a cold beer, but also some temporary tranquillity to relieve my throbbing head (well, I am getting on a bit).

Local diversions meant that both coaches were delayed, not ideal match preparation for captain Lloyd Dummett and his team.  Considering this match was in readiness for promotion to national league div 3, I was shocked at the lack of facilities within the stadium.

On a red-hot day, there was very little shade provided from the sparce seating area, although the grand stand behind one of the goals had a decent vantage point.

Thader manager Raul Mora elected to start with 2 of last week’s absentees (Rafa & Quino), but surprisingly left Pedro on the bench.  His men didn’t know what hit them, for within the first 10 mins, Patacona had twice hit the post and had goals disallowed for offside.

Having weathered the storm, Quino forced a worldly save from host keeper Lucas on 15 mins.  There were strong appeals for a penalty when a Patacona striker theatrically went down in the penalty area on 32 mins, but thankfully the ref was wise to his antics.  Miguel became the first player to be booked, Thader’s big centre back taking no prisoners whilst making one of his fierce challenges.

Pedro and Konate were introduced for the start of the new half, with Calderon and Juan also making substitute appearances later in the match.  These changes seemed to have the desired effect, for Thader forced 2 corners in quick succession, although neither came to fruition.

Thader en route

Javi headed just over on 63 mins, then 2 mins later, an audacious overhead bicycle kick by Dani Lucas, sailed over the bar.

Patacona were by now somewhat rattled, culminating in justified bookings for overzealous tackles.  On 70 mins, the hosts again thought they should have been given a spot kick, for a foul in the box, but once again the ref was unmoved.  Dani had a glorious opportunity to square proceedings on 76 mins, but from close range he shot wide, then on 83 mins, it was Thader’s turn to appeal for a penalty for hand ball, but without success.

As time ticked away, Chema made a breath-taking save to keep Thader in the game.

Then with the very last move of the game, Calderon headed wide.  Seconds later, the full time whistle signalled jubilant home fans invasion of the pitch.  Not to be outdone, Thader fans applauded their heroes off the pitch, then continued singing on the drive home, long into the night (ever listened to a live Spanish football radio commentary – it’s manic!!).

Following a magnificent season, CD Thader will host their end of season presentation and meal on Friday 10 June – further details to follow.