A few weeks on from the opening season defeat of Japan, the Marlins faced Galacticos at Jinqiao.
Those few weeks provided the opportunity to build up fitness levels following the rude awakening against the energetic Japanese.
But whilst some were trying to get to the point that they could last longer than 15 minutes (on the pitch), others were busy doing kamikazes off their bike and dislocating their shoulder in the process. Fortunately, the league’s best keeper, Dale Johnson, was alright but for a bruised body, popped out shoulder, broken bike and being pick pocketed by a true twat of society as he laid on the ground. Saved by a parent’s complaint about his lack of a helmet, Dale managed to produce the sort of headbutt that Zidane would be proud off as he flew of his bike.
Despite the blow of being without their amazing keeper and The Rock – who had rolled his ankle in the week – in defence, the Marlins were able to temporarily fill those voids.
Jamie Gerrard, aka ‘The Cat’, went in goal while Loic returned to the side following a summer holiday in his homeland.
Gui Leclerq made his first appearance of the season as did Pete Roberts and a couple of new recruits, including an overgrown teenager.
This fixture often presents an opportunity for the Gaffer to rotate the squad and increase the goal difference. Shanghai Marlins had a great defensive record last season but weren’t as clinical as previous years in attack. Looking to build on the 4-1 win against Japan, Shanghai Marlins needed to be ruthless in a game which some find hard to motivate themselves for.
A few half-chances/openings weren’t capitalised on until Gui broke the offside trap down the left channel. He squared the ball for Pete Rosselli who took the time he was afforded before side-footing into the corner.
Soon after, there was confusion over which way the freekick was awarded by the hair on his chinny chin chin (referee). It was an innocuous coming together that didn’t warrant a freekick either way, but as the Galacticos thought it was for them, the referee signalled it was for the Marlins. Captain, Jon Banks, took it quickly, found Simon Moore down the right who then squared it for Fedja Selimovic. The Croatian took one touch before firing into the far corner from the edge of the area. Galacticos were incensed but they should have noted the referees signal even if it was wrong.
Shanghai Marlins were rarely threatened in defence and it was just a matter of time until they scored again. A few opportunities were squandered while the Galacticos keeper pulled off a couple of fine saves.
Eventually a third arrived when the ball was cleared from a corner. Rosselli found The Bearded Magician (Wilson Scott) down the left who then played the ball to Gui. On the edge of the area, the Frenchman delayed as Rosselli caught up with play before slipping a perfectly weighted pass between two defenders for the beanpole striker to score first time into the roof of the net.
The Gaffer made a couple of changes with around 15 minutes to go in the first half. Ale Ossandon made an immediate impact by scoring wth his first touch following another assist by Gui as the Chilean drove his effort into the far corner.
Gui then got the goal his performance (voted Man of the Match) deserved as he hammered a freekick – won by Simon – in at the near post from the right side of the area. The keeper could do nothing but parry it into the goal as the Marlins went 5-0 up.
Just before half-time, Ale got his second of the game. The Bearded Magician danced between two defenders at the same time and unselfishly laid it to Ale who again stroked the ball into the corner.
Half-time came and Steve just asked for much of the same. A few occasions the side were guilty of forcing the play and being overly ambitious, which was understandable given the circumstances. But this game was an opportunity for gaining further match fitness ahead of a tricky tie against Century Park (formerly Shanghai 2000) next week.
Following a slight alteration in the formation, Shanghai Marlins took to the field looking to get a few more goals.
As is often the case, the performance level drops when a team is so far in front at half-time, but that didn’t stop Gui grabbing his second of the day.
Dave Watson – playing at centre back – found his teammate with a superb ball over the top. Gui broke the often ragged offside trap and raced clear on goal. He cooly placed his shot into the far corner, leaving the keeper with no chance.
Once again, chances were missed as the boys in blue basically camped out in Galacticos half.
But then, a moment of history that will result in a National Holiday only rivalled by the recent Military Parade.
A common sight during the game was Gui getting behind the defence. But this time, as he approached the goalkeeper, he laid the ball off to his right where none other than Simon Le Bon Bobby Moore was steamrolling in to side foot into the empty net and claim his first ever goal for Shanghai Marlins. Over two years of waiting was worth it as he celebrated like a man who doesn’t score often. Happy but gutted his better half wasn’t there to get capture it.
Recently married, Adam Christy, was delighted as he had bet Simon would finally score with those on the sidelines unable to play.
Once the crowd had settled down and the furore had subsided, Simon popped up again with another goal! The Bearded Magician dodged a couple of challenges before taking aim from the edge of the box. His effort was parried and Simon – like some bus w***** waiting for one which doesn’t come because it was held up in traffic and subsequently gets caught up by another as they both arrive at the same bus stop at the same time or something – was first to get there (from right back) to tap home.
That was the final goal of the game as the Marlins fell just short of double figures.
A few other highlights included:
– Jamie and Fedja both keeping more cleansheets than Dale has this season.
– Dave bellowed at a slightly wincing Chinese guy who happened to follow the rules of gravity and physics that when a Geordie tackles you at full speed, you might be uncomfortable but definitely on the floor.
– Ash nearly scored with a rabona which hit the crossbar.
– Jamie got a smack in the face to remind him of his Boxing days.
– Dale had a Breezer for every colour of the rainbow, much to the delight of those on the sidelines.
As mentioned, Shanghai Marlins take on Century Park next week where they will be hoping to continue their 100% form. This side were the only team the Marlins failed to beat last season, so they’d be looking to correct that at their first attempt this time around.