Levante UD 0 – 0 Elche CF
Elche CF closed out their, at times, turbulent season with a goal-less draw from their dead rubber with near(ish) Valencia neighbours Levante.
The fact the match kicked-off two hours before the rest of the games on this the final day of the season tells you all you might have needed to know about it’s importance. La Liga safety for both sides was assured a couple of games ago so this was merely an exercise in getting the final fixture out of the way and it showed.
Elche were brighter throughout with the lions share of the chances and did more than enough to win it. Instead, profligacy in front of goal was the order of the day and players with the most to prove did the precise opposite. Top scorer and want-away striker Jonathas was absent, suspended, so Christian Herrera was handed the role of leading the line. He did so in almost complete anonymity.
Truth be told this was a football match of seemingly unending tedium, particularly during an especially dull first half. Both sides had occasional bursts of energy but moments of excitement in or around either penalty area were few and far between. Barely ten thousand were there to witness the non-spectacle and those who managed to stay away were the lucky ones.
The visitors had by far the best of the second half and should have gone ahead on sixty six minutes when Elche born and bred midfielder Aarón Ñíguez was felled inside the box for a clear penalty. Waving away the protestations of regular spot-kick taker David Lombán, the Ilicitano then proceeded to fire a dire dead ball straight at Levante goalkeeper Mariño for the easiest save of his season. His embarrassment was complete just moments later when he was substituted by Coro.
Worse was to follow for Elche who, by now, were fashioning some decent chances. Two of the best fell to Herrera who, just a couple of years ago couldn’t stop scoring for the Elche B team. Twice clean through and onside he slipped the ball past a post when Mariño’s goal presented a far bigger target. Eventually, and not before time, Andaluz referee Melero López blew for time and the Ilicitano’s completed their season with an impressive haul of 41 points, one more than last time, and thirteenth place.
Manager Fran Escribá, if he stays, now has a rebuilding job to do at Elche. The club survived with ease in the Primera División thanks to the goals of Jonathas and a much improved second half of the campaign. As part of the soap opera behind the scenes, the football club faces a summer transfer embargo and now, having worked wonders during his three seasons directing operations from the Elche bench, Escribá may decide to call time on his Alicante adventure and seek a new challenge. It’ll be an interesting summer.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/47395/
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