CD Estepona v CD Diocesano, Sunday 16th April 2023, 12 noon

Having ticked off Antequero’s ground the previous day, I had a few options remaining for the Sunday which was a much busier day fixture-wise. Unfortunately, nearby Alora didn’t have a home game as it’s an interesting town. I’d braved the streets that were barely narrower than our car to visit their castle and we were able to view the surrounding area in all directions.

I wasn’t able to see the hillside on which we were staying as there was another hill between us. Without the hill I’d have been confident of spotting the brightly coloured vintage circus wagon that we’d booked. In an area where just about every house was white, it certainly stood out.

There were games taking place in Malaga which was less than an hour’s drive away, but when I discovered that there was a fixture in Gibraltar I couldn’t resist adding another country to my groundhopping list. The late afternoon kickoff time also meant that we could squeeze in a lunchtime game on the way, although I don’t suppose many Spaniards would consider noon to be an appropriate time for lunch. That meant our first stop of the day was Estepona, a coastal town about ninety minutes south.

The ninety minutes quickly turned into two hours after I realized that I’d forgotten the passports that we’d need to cross the border between Spain and Gibraltar and had to double back. We had plenty of time in hand though and if there had been a vacant table at any of the cafes near the Estadio Municipal Francisco Munoz then we could have had a pre-match second breakfast.

There was a short queue for fifteen euro tickets for a game that would impact upon both ends of their fourth-tier league table. Home side Estepona, in a very Spanish red and blue kit, were in seventh place and two points outside of the play-off spots. Visitors Diocesano, in blue and green, were eighteenth and bottom, although still not mathematically down.

The pitch was artificial with yellow markings for other sports or for five a side games. That sort of thing always strikes me as a bit small-time. I know they have to maximize use and revenue but aesthetically I’d rather it didn’t happen.

We found seats at the back of the reasonably full main shaded stand and so got the benefit of the wind blowing in. There were some black shirted ultras behind the goal to our left and a handful of people sat in the sun in the open stand opposite.

There weren’t many chances until the closing stages and, if you didn’t know, it would have been hard to say which team was propping up the table. Estepona put some pressure on towards the end but couldn’t take their opportunities. Two minutes from time a shot that might actually have been a cross sneaked in and the single goal was sufficient to take the points for Diocesano.

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