By SKIP BANDELE
The first ever Algarve derby between Olhanense and Portimonense at the top level of Portuguese league football took place last Friday evening – pretty it was not.
In front of almost 4,000 fans, the visitors from the west made much the brighter start in the José Arcanjo stadium, but Olhão soon resorted to their by now trademark spoiling tactics resulting in a disjointed game constantly interrupted by a seemingly never ending sequence of petty fouls.
An at best inept performance from Madeira referee Elmano Santos did not help matters, the official brandishing the first of seven yellow cards and one red, accentuating a grand total of 38 fouls committed by both sides, as late as the 29th minute.
By that time Olhanense striker Paulo Sérgio had somehow found the time to interrupt his colleague Jorge Gonçalves’ incessant theatrics to score from a cross which caught three Portimão defenders napping.
A second from the penalty spot, which should never have been given, by Djalmir after the interval sealed matters as the normally level-headed Ivanildo received his marching orders for an innocuous offence, reducing Portimão to ten men for the final quarter hour of a spectacle never pleasing to the eye.
After the match Portimão manager Litos voiced the opinion that his team had been treated
“The ‘penalty’ did not exist. We did everything to provide a spectacle but we conceded the first goal at an unfortunate point in the game when nothing had been decided. We have a young team which will grow with its coach.”
Portimonense next receive Beira-Mar at the Stadium of the Algarve on Sunday afternoon fully aware of the fact that this season will be a long and hard battle against an immediate return to the second division Liga de Honra.
Achieving this task whilst under extreme financial constraints and playing home matches ‘away’ until at least November will not be easy.
But manager and players will be fully aware that their current 14th place in the table, two points clear of Marítimo and Naval, will be good enough come next April – and of the fact that the mere three points covering the no less than eight clubs immediately above them permit every chance of betterment.