Rayo Vallecano, Sunday July 29th 2012
Rayo Vallecano B 1 (Ruben 10)
Southend United 1 (Eastwood 17)
Another superb training facility in the middle of nowhere, Blues turned up with problems from the start. The coach was having hydraulic problems which meant for a while it looked like the kit could not be reached from the hold. That problem resolved it looked for a while that the game wouldn’t take place as the grass pitch that we were supposed to be using had no markings at all. Pitch 3, a dry looking Astroturf pitch, was offered as an alternative but Sturrock and the boys didn’t look keen on the idea. Finally pitch 4 was agreed, a modern 3G pitch with a small bleacher style seated stand which housed the Southend contingent and the locals. The crowd numbered 167 including the ubiquitous local with a megaphone who sang for the entire 90 minutes although strangely he was wearing a Cadiz scarf.
The row over the pitch delayed the kick off to 7.15pm but it was still 33 degrees when the game started, Blues reverting to 4-4-2. Blues had the opening chance with Prosser heading wide when a goal looked certain. Rayo came into the game with a spell of pressure, Smith flapped at a cross conceding a needless corner and then again showed a vampirical fear of crosses when the corner came over. Rayo pressured again and took the lead 10 minutes in when Ruben found the corner from 20 yards out with a powerful strike. Seven minutes later Blues were level, Hall took a free kick on the left flank Benyon headed goalwards and Bielsa could only parry the ball to his right side and Eastwood gratefully volleyed home from close range. A strange incident occurred in the 22 minute, Owusu thought he had been fouled and grabbed the ball, the ref awarded a free kick for handball. Owusu went down to the ground indicating he was injured and then walked off the pitch and out of the ground to take no further part in the match. David Martin had a good opportunity to put Southend 2-1 up but headed over when unmarked. The referee failed to spot a blatant foul on Coughlan which lead to vehement appeals for a penalty. The first half ended at 1-1 with the pick of the players being Elliot Benyon who toiled manfully upfront with Freddy playing just off him.
Only change at half time was Bentley on for Smith. The young keeper was called into action early on saving smartly from Suso and then Nanclares. Just after the hour Sturrock called on four of his subs, putting Cresswell up front with Tomlin. Five minutes later Mark Phillips came only to be booked within a minute for a deliberate handball when attacking a corner. Cresswell battled well upfront and had a couple of decent chances, he was booked however when his foot went high on a Rayo defender. Southend finished in the ascendancy and should have won the match, the lively Tomlin had a great chance on 83 minutes but headed straight at the keeper.
At the conclusion of the match the players asked for the fans to come onto the pitch for a tour photograph which was a nice touch. Megaphone man had the last laugh, however, gatecrashing the club photo. Fair play to him.
1.Bielsa (sub:13.Carlos 46) 2.Owusu (sub:12.Pepe 23) 3.Nacho 4.Gabri 5.Suso 6.Thiobane (sub:14.Mario 57) 7.Manquillo (sub:15.Nanclares 46) 8.Juanito (sub:16.Diego 46) 9.Nesa (sub:17.Valdivia 46) 10.Chevi © (sub:18.Alberto Oca 46) 11.Ruben (sub:19.Ranera 46)
Booking: Owusu (handball)
1.Smith (sub:13.Bentley 46) 2.Clohessy (sub:15.Straker 65) 3.Prosser 4.Leonard (sub:17.Ferdinand 65) 5.Coughlan (sub:12.Phillips 68) 6.Barker © 7.Hall 8.Brogan (sub:16.Hurst 75) 9.Benyon (sub:14.Cresswell 65) 10.Eastwood (sub:18.Tomlin 65) 11.Martin
Bookings: Leonard (foul), Phillips (handball), Cresswell (foul)