Real Murcia and FC Cartagena battle for play-offs

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ANOTHER FINE away win last weekend keeps Real Murcia hopes of reaching an end of season play-off spot very much alive as they climbed to within three points of FC Cartagena who could only manage a home draw.

Two months ago at the beginning of March, the picture was very different as a poor run of form had left Murcia five points adrift of the play-offs in fifth and twelve points behind Cartagena, who were and still are sitting second in the table behind leaders La Hoya of Lorca.

Since, losing to S. Fernando on March 5, the Pimentoneros, managed by Vicente Mir, have embarked on a remarkable run of nine games without defeat including a 3-1 win at their Murcian rivals and now sit in the final play-off position with two games to play.

By contrast FC Cartagena have only picked up 11 points out of 27 in the same period and now face missing out altogether.

Last weekend Real Murcia won away 3-1 at Atletico Sanluqueno, whilst Cartagena could only muster a 2-2 at home to FC Jumilla setting up a nerve jangling end to the season.

The top position team, currently occupied by La Hoya, six points ahead of Murcia and three ahead of Cartagena, join the other three group winners and are drawn into a two-legged series where the two winners are promoted to the Segunda División and enter into the final for the Segunda División B championship.

The two losing semifinalists enter the playoff round for the last two promotion spots.

The four group runners-up are drawn against one of the three fourth-placed teams outside their group while the four third-placed teams are drawn against one another in a two-legged series.

The six winners advance with the two losing semifinalists to determine the four teams that will enter the last two-legged series for the last two promotion spots. In all the playoff series, the lower-ranked club plays at home first.

This end of season streak coincided with new faces in the team, led by David Sánchez, Curto, Guardiola and Josema, among others, who’s form has added six wins and two draws in the last eight games.

The Real Murcia fans have also got behind the team, so much so that they sold all their allocation of tickets for Sunday’s away game at La Roda in 48 hours and will take over 2000 supporters in buses to cheer the former La Liga regulars on.

In reality reaching top position would mean La Hoya losing both their matches and Murcia winning both of theirs.

But team coach Deseado Flores said “We do not give up on anything. First place seems almost impossible, but the second and third are close. ” adding, “The group looks capable of everything and in the playoff we can be a hard nut to crack.”

“We do not give up anything, but Lorca will really go for it in their last two games. Player for player they are stronger than Cartagena and I see them finishing first, ” He explained.

If that is the case then it sets up a possible two-legged play off derby between Murcia and fierce rivals the albinos of Cartagena. One thing is for sure …. It’s going to be an exciting end to the season.

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