Gimnastic de Tarragona v Huesca, Sunday 31st May 2015, Noon.

1 - nastic huesca

Another day, another game. This time in Tarragona, about an hour’s drive from Tortosa. Or rather an hour’s drive to where the satnav reckoned the stadium was and then another hour’s drive around town trying to find the actual location.

The Nou Estadi was actually built in 1972, so not very new at all really. I wonder when it will just be known as the Estadi? And you’d think that after forty-odd years someone might have got around to erecting a sign or two pointing out where it is.

We eventually spotted the ground five minutes before the noon kick-off but by then all the nearby parking had been taken and we ended up having to walk from about a mile away.

Estadi not so Nou.

The not so Nou Estadi

We were able to buy ten euro tickets for the uncovered stand along the side and by the time we had undergone the searches and taken our seats the game was already half an hour old.

It's 1.40 to the pound these days.

It’s 1.40 to the pound these days, so that’s about seven quid.

There was a decent crowd with the other three sides of the sixteen thousand capacity stadium apparently full. We had the Huesca fans at the opposite end of our section and a fair bit of space around us. For those who didn’t fancy coughing up their ten euros for a ticket the view from the road above the stadium afforded a decent view, certainly better than that of the away fans at St James’ Park.

View from the right of the Preferente Superior

View from the left end of the Preferent Superior

Whilst the previous day’s game at Lleida had been a fairly meaningless end-of-season fixture, this one had a lot more riding on the result. Gymnastic and Huesca had each finished top of their respective Segunda B divisions and were playing each other for a place in the second tier. This was the second leg, with the first game at Huesca having finished 0-0.

It’s a strange system. The four regional winners meet in two semi-finals, of which the two winners are promoted and go on to play each other for the overall divisional championship. The two losers drop into a further play-off that also involves the second, third and fourth placed teams in the leagues.

Looking the other way from our seats.

Looking the other way from our seats.

Nastic were in Man Utd kits, whilst Huesca could have passed for Jeonbuk Motors in their green and black strips. The games had been goalless when we arrived and it remained that way as we reached half-time.

The home side took the lead soon after the restart with a long-range daisy cutter from Lago that struck both posts before rolling over the line.

The goal understandably upped the tension and it boiled over when a Huesca player declined to give the ball back from a throw in after the Nastic keeper had put the ball out for a Huesca injury. The header from Rocha that put Nastic two up moments later raised tempers even further amongst the visiting players and they had Manolin sent off for what I believe is termed non-specific skullduggery.

Man Utd v Jeonbuk Motors.

Man Utd v Jeonbuk Motors.

At that point you’d have thought it was all over and Huesca might have turned their thoughts and energy to the next bout of play-offs, but they kept pushing forwards despite being two goals and a man down. I couldn’t help but contrast their efforts with those of the Boro at Wembley six days earlier where I’d thought that we seemed to accept our defeat far too early in proceedings.

At eighty minutes it really was all over when substitute Jiminez broke free and chipped the keeper from twenty yards to make it three-nil. The players celebrated as if they’d just been promoted, which I suppose they had. Huesca kept going to the end though and notched a consolation with a couple of minutes to go.

Final Score.

Final Score.

The win for Gimnastic secured the main prize of a place in the second tier and a two-legged tie with Real Oviedo to determine the overall Segunda B Championship.

 

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