By CHRIS WRIGHT
There was a real carnival atmosphere in Olhão on Easter Saturday as 2,000 V. Setúbal fans descended on the town for the important relegation clash with Olhanense.
The towns have a strong bond of friendship dating back to the days when the two communities were major contributors to the nation’s fishing industry. A barbecue on the seafront by the new marina saw many supporters mingling freely, renewing old friendships and making new ones.
Both sides had opportunities in the opening quarter of an hour. For the home side, Djalmir’s header went just wide from a deep Ukra cross. At the other end, Ventura made two excellent saves to deny V.Setúbal. Tengarrinha looked uncomfortable at the back and the visitors aerial dominance paid dividends in the 35th minute when Ney’s long cross from the right was flicked on for Henrique to slot into an empty net. The 58th minute proved to be crucial. Olhanense had a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Carlos Xista. The visitors counter attacked and much to Olhanense’s initial relief, a goal bound shot cannoned off the bar.
With the home defence all at sea, the rebound was headed against the post! But V.Setúbal were not to be denied as Neca was given too much space on the left. His floated cross was powered into the back of the net by Keita’s head for a 2-0 lead.
Olhanense were struggling and certainly missed the creative talent of Paulo Sérgio, serving a one match suspension. His replacement Zequinha had been ineffectual and was replaced by Toy shortly after the interval.
It looked as if the visitors were going to record their first ever win in Olhão but in the 83’ the home side were thrown a lifeline when Ukra’s cross to the far post was chested down by Djalmir and calmly chipped past keeper Nuno Santos. This was the centre-forward’s eighth league goal in 12 outings after returning from injury, a strike rate-per-game only bettered by Falcão (FC Porto) and Cardozo (Benfica).
The home side threw everything forward as the fans roared their team on. Even goalkeeper Ventura sprinted up field to join the attack as the final minute approached. In the fourth minute of ’added-on’ time, a cross from Ukra drifted out to the right. Djalmir hooked the ball back into the crowded goalmouth where, in the ensuing melee, Castro managed to force the ball over the line to snatch a vital draw.
The importance of this point can only be quantified in the context that it keeps the two sides on the same number of points but, more importantly, six points clear of the relegation zone. Olhanense probably need four points from their remaining five games to ensure their survival in the top flight.
On Sunday, Olhanense are away to fifth placed V.Guimarães, kick-off 8.15pm live on Sport TV.
Olhanense next play at home on Friday April 16 when they will welcome Marítimo (Madeira) to the José Arcanjo Stadium with an 8.15pm kick-off.