Portimonense edging closer

Promotion and top flight football next season are becoming increasingly likely prospects for Algarve second division leaders Portimonense despite some mixed results – a win, three draws and a win – since mid-January.

Since the transfer window departure of Amilton and Lumor, manager Vítor Oliveira’s team has continued to create numerous chances but is struggling to find the back of the net and that trend did not change during the latest two matches.

Last Wednesday, visiting Vitória de Guimarães B managed a solitary shot on target during a very one-sided encounter – Fabricio could easily have had a hat-trick while Pedro Sá, Paulinho and Manafá also went close, and yet a combination of determined defending, good work from Guimarães keeper Miguel Oliveira and the woodwork kept the game goalless going into the interval.

Manafá again hit the bar as the second half got under way and it finally fell to top scorer Pires to tuck the ball away following a 69th-minute corner, producing a collective sigh of relief from the more than 1,600-strong home support.

After that well deserved 1-0 win, the story remained more or less the same during Sunday morning’s subsequent away match with Cova da Piedade. Fabrício was again the culprit going close on several occasions before failing to control the ball when put clean through with only keeper Pedro Alves to beat.

Alves was less fortunate approaching the break, however, bringing down Gleisson in his area to allow Ricardo Pessoa to hand Portimonense the advantage from the penalty spot.

The home side emerged more determined for the second playing period and saw their efforts rewarded when Rui Varela equalised on the hour-mark. By that time Portimonense had been reduced to 10 men, Fidelis Irhene having received his marching orders for a second bookable offence 10 minutes earlier, but, curiously, the setback only served to invigorate Oliveira’s remaining men who went on to dominate the remaining half-hour without finding the winning goal.

In retrospect, the four points gained from the two matches proved to be a major gain as closest rivals Aves lost on Sunday afternoon following their disappointing draw in mid-week. They now trail Portimonense, who have a game in hand, by eight points (at the time of writing), with Académica, Benfica B and Varzim sharing third place a further nine points adrift.

Next up for the Algarveans was Wednesday’s catch-up game at Sporting Covilhã (played after the Resident went to press) before relegation-threatened Fafe travel south on Sunday afternoon.


Photo: Portimonense top scorer Pires