Sevilla might have been away this weekend, but their reserve side Sevilla Atletico were at home. In Spain, reserve sides can compete within the league structure, barred only from playing in the same division as their first team and also from taking part in the King’s Cup.
I’m not really sure how I feel about this actually. I know that if you are a ‘proper football fan’ then you are supposed to be against it but if the Boro’s reserve team were in the Conference, or whatever it’s called these days, I’d be quite happy watching them. Likewise it wouldn’t bother me if Man City reserves were playing in the Championship. It’s still a game of football or a day out. I know you would get fans of lower league teams kicking off about it, as it might knock them down a division or two, but really, does it matter whether you are playing fourth tier or sixth tier, particularly if it creates more interest in the lower divisions?
Whatever. The plus point on this occasion was that we had another game to go to, Sevilla Atletico v Ecija in the third tier Segunda B division at the Estadio Ciudad Deportiva José Ramón Cisneros Palacios.
You would think that a name as long as that would mean something to the satnav, but it didn’t. Fortunately Jen knows how to work Google Maps and so we had an idea as to where the ground was in relation to the Real Betis stadium. We took a gamble or two and found ourselves driving past the ground with twenty minutes to spare.
It was an 11.30am kick-off, which was ideal as we had a bullfight to attend later in the day. We paid a euro to park the car and then ten euros each for tickets. Whilst some of the other people there might have paid to park, I didn’t see anyone else paying to get in and assumed that they were all season ticket holders of either Sevilla Atletico or of Sevilla itself. There were a few fans in Atletico shirts, but far more in normal Sevilla tops.
It seems a bit over the top to me to wear the specific reserve team shirt, although it’s possible that some of the fans there did actually support Atletico rather than Seville. Overall though, it was your standard reserve team fixture crowd of social misfits plus friends and family of the players.
The stadium had a small permanent stand on the far side, with two temporary looking steel structures providing the seating opposite and behind one of the goals. Most people sat where we did and it looked as if the small permanent stand opposite might be reserved for club officials.
Sevilla Atletico, in white shirts with a red diagonal stripe with black shorts, were a young team with the players ranging between eighteen and twenty three. A few of them had played the odd game or sat on the bench for the first team. Ecija, in blue shirts and white shorts, were a lot more experienced with a few players in their thirties. The visiting captain, Oscar Rodriguez, looked far older than his thirty-one years, the bald patch in his curly perm suggesting that his formative years were in the seventies.
It was first blood to the grizzled old men when after three minutes a bit of hesitation in the Atletico defence left a gap for Ecija striker Requena. The thirty three year old tapped home from close range to put the visitors a goal up.
It was at that point that I spotted the dozen or so away fans as they stood and applauded. Dedication indeed on a Sunday morning. They had a banner too.
Despite their poor start, Sevilla looked the better team as they passed the ball around quickly and rarely conceded possession. Their pitch didn’t really help their passing game, it looked to have a few too many uneven areas for something that I presumed was being maintained by the groundstaff of a top division club.
Ten minutes later, Sevilla were level when Ecija keeper Ramon Sanchez saved a Luis Alberto header but then fumbled the ball at the foot of the post before appearing to knock it into his own net. The papers gave the goal to Luis Alberto but I reckon that he had the keeper to thank for it.
There were plenty of chances in the remainder of the first half but it was still level at the break. In the second half the home crowd started to get a little frustrated. The ref missed a Sevilla player having his shirt pulled and the bloke behind us was furious. In the space of a minute he must have shouted at the ref a dozen times, repeatedly letting him know that he was a whore and so was his mother. He didn’t let up for the rest of the game, continuing his abuse even after the players had left the pitch and he was on his way out. It wouldn’t have surprised if he was still ranting away in the queue to get out of the car park.
Just before the hour mark Sevilla were down to ten men with the young right back Morales receiving his second yellow. As you might expect, this didn’t have a particularly positive effect on the referees popularity with the home crowd.
Being a man down didn’t seem to affect Sevilla though and they continued to pass the ball around and get forward. Their two centre halves seemed to have any threat from Ecija covered between them. The captain, Deivid, looked good on the ball when bringing it out from the back and his defensive partner Samu, whilst less comfortable in possession, looked more than capable of kicking the crap out of anyone who might feel inclined to mention this to him.
It did appear as if Ecija were going to hang on for what would have been a well-deserved point, but in injury time Sevilla broke quickly and substitute Menudo stroked the ball home. Whilst most of the home fans celebrated, not even the late winner was sufficient to calm the bloke behind us though.
The win moved Sevilla Atletico up to fifth, one place outside of the play-off positions whilst the visitors remained in the relegation area, dropping to eighteenth. We headed off out of town for a late afternoon bullfight at Osuna.