By CHRIS WRIGHT firstname.lastname@example.org
The top-of-the-table televised Liga Vitalis match between Estoril and SC Olhanense was watched by a meagre crowd of 204, who were to witness a bizarre moment in the 35th minute that was to change the course of the game.
Referee Augusto Costa, definitely no relation of Olhanense manager Jorge Costa, caused mayhem when he showed a red card to Bruno Mestre, who was at least 20 metres from the incident.
Olhanense had started the more lively and it was no surprise when skipper Rui Duarte converted Ukra cross after quarter of an hour to give them the lead.
The visitors were without their injured top scorer Djalmir and with Stephane and Guga serving suspensions, new signing João Paulo from Belenenses made his debut.
Olhanense were looking comfortable when goalkeeper Bruno Verissimo made a poor clearance that allowed Marco Silva a clear run on goal. Steven tackled back and nicked the ball away before the Estoril striker went down on the edge of the box.
The red card fiasco then followed with the referee finally correcting his error after consulting his assistant. Steven was shown a second yellow card and Olhanense were down to10 men.
Five minutes after the restart Estoril drew level when Luis Carlos headed home and fifteen minutes later he was left unmarked in the area to score what was to be the winning goal. Olhanense brought on debutant Carvalhas, on loan from Benfica, together with Moses in an endeavour to snatch a point, which they so nearly did when Rui Baião’s thundering header was brilliantly saved by Marcio Ramos.
There is a feeling in the south that match officials seem to ‘favour’ teams from the north and with two dubious red cards in two matches the Olhanense fans certainly would not argue. The standard of refereeing is inconsistent and at the halfway mark (120 games) this season 646 yellow cards and 56 reds have been brandished.
There needs to be more rapport between referees and players in the hope that the entertainment provided can reach a more sustainable level and encourage more spectators through the turnstiles. For a town the size of Estoril, with a team pushing for promotion, to attract such poor support is difficult to comprehend.
SC Olhanense drop to second in the league with Santa Clara’s 1-0 home win over Beira-Mar taking them two points clear at the top. Estoril are now in 3rd place. Olhanense are at home to Sp. Covilhã on Sunday kick-off 3.00pm.
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