Málaga lose their battle against the drop! Latest blog by Chelsea Ashurst
Hey everyone – great to be back with you, just a shame I don’t have better news!
So, as the headline suggests (!!) Málaga CF’s relegation battle ended in us dropping out of the top division of Spanish football. With two games to play there were six teams still involved in trying to avoid the drop – ourselves, Madrid CFF, Fundación Albacete, Sporting Huelva, EDF Logroño and Sevilla FC – with Málaga, Madrid and Albacete all level on 21 points at the bottom of the table.
In our penultimate match we managed to pick up a very worthy point at Athletic Club Bilbao, a very tough match with lots of aerial play and in which both teams had their chances. Our clearest opportunity fell to our winter signing Ode Fulutudilu, the DR Congo striker, from a great pass by our skipper Adriana, but unfortunately it didn’t go in and so the match finished 0-0 – a result we would normally have been delighted with… Unfortunately for us, Albacete won their match at home to RCD Espanyol and Madrid pulled off a shock 1-0 away win at high-flying Levante UD – which put us two points behind both going into the final day!
That meant that going into the last game of the season, at home to Rayo Vallecano, we needed to win and hope that both Albacete AND Madrid both lost their matches for us to stay in the top division… We threw everything at Rayo and, having gone 1-0 up and then 2-1 down, with the fans behind us and showing lots of heart we fought back with a brilliant second-half performance to win 4-2 thanks to goals from Adriana (2), María Ruíz and Armisa. Yet though Albacete went down 4-1 to Logroño, Madrid pulled off another surprise result to beat Athletic Club 2-0 and confirm our relegation.
It was a very cruel blow after we had played so well and I think that, with the quality of players we have, we deserved to stay in the top flight – but it wasn’t to be and so next season (providing the proposed re-formatting of Spain’s women’s league goes through) Málaga CF will start in the second tier, called la Primera B…
Going back to my last blog, I was in my second season at Barcelona FC in 2014/2015. Again I was second-choice behind the experienced Laura Ràfols, but coach Xavi Llorens gave me plenty of opportunities to fill in during a season in which we again won the Liga, though failed to defend our Copa de la Reina title. Happily for me it was my ex-club Sporting Huelva that lifted the trophy, with my Barça colleagues and I losing out 1-0 in the semis to Valencia – thanks to a goal from Valencia legend Carol Férez.
In the UEFA Champions League we reached the Round of 16, but we went out 2-1 on aggregate to English side Bristol Academy – an 83rd-minute penalty in the second leg in Bristol proving decisive. And so despite ‘only’ lifting one trophy that season, it was a very enjoyable experience and one where I got the chance to play and train alongside some real greats of the Spanish – some of whom like Ruth García, Sonía Bermúdez, Jenni Hermoso and Vicky Losada were already established players, while others like Virginia Torrecilla and Alexia Putellas were rising fast.
Come the end of the season I got a great offer from another big club, but due to family reasons I had to move back home to Granada. It meant putting my footballing dream on hold, but at the time I felt it was key to put my family first and be there for them in a difficult period. Once I was back in Granada, I got in touch with my old club Club Atlético Málaga, to see if I could combine playing with them while helping out at home.
So, from playing for a Champions League club I found myself down in the second division, but I was close to my family which was the main thing at the time. We spent the 2015/16 and 2016/17 in the second division, but big changes happened in June 2016, when the club were taken in to form part of Málaga CF (whose men’s club were in the first division at the time). And come 2017/18 there was a major overhaul, with Antonio Contreras taking over from Raúl Iznata as coach and new players, a new salary structure, new coaching staff and new training facilities all coming in.
Promotion was set as a goal for that season and we fought for it from the start! And having won our regional league, we were drawn in a promotion play-off against SPA Alicante and CD Femarguín. We won all the games, clinching the final key game 1-0 away to Femarguín – coincidentally clinching promotion in the same ground that Club Atlético Málaga had won promotion ten years earlier!
Thanks to you all for following me this season, enjoy the World Cup and the summer break and speak again soon!
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