Having comfortably defeated ERS in an ugly manner last time out, Shanghai Marlins had name changers, MMFC, standing in their way of an SPL Cup Final spot.
A number of the squad had embarked on an open top bus trip around the city on Friday to give Dan Griffiths and Simon Moore a nice send off. Although, Griffiths did try to end things prematurely by climbing onto the roof and probably wished he had when sat in a friend’s bathroom throwing up at a three-year-olds birthday party the following day.
Thankfully, there weren’t any casualties – unless you count the improvement to James Moss’ face – and Griffiths arrived on Sunday a few kilos lighter, accompanied by his two children and part-time photographer/Ayi.
Dale ‘100%’ Johnson was late so the team photo got shifted until after the match where everyone could look their best.
Playing on the Dulwich School field meant spectators had a stand to watch the preceding semi-final that Lions lost 5-2 to Japan which surprised many. The Japanese looked energetic, sharp and clinical which will give them great confidence ahead of the final.
Despite a few dropouts due to work and family reasons, the Marlins still turned up with a strong squad of 15 as manager Steve Fishwick encouraged a strong and controlled start in the blazing Shanghai heat.
Just a few minutes into the game, Gui Leclerq had a decent opportunity but he was unable to keep his volley down from 15-yards.
A long ball over the top presented MMFC with a great chance but Dave Watson refused to give up as he scrambled back to deny a certain goal. That brilliant piece of committed defensive work gave the Marlins a much-needed kick up the backside.
Soon after, Leclerq atoned for his miss with one of the goals of the season. The Frenchman’s swerving and dipping volley left the unorthodox keeper no chance as it nestled into the far corner. A great effort to break the deadlock as Mossy’s jaw remained on the floor in amazement for the entirety of the match…and beyond.
Strike partner, Pete Rosselli, had a chance to double their advantage following the keeper’s fumble in the corner of his area but the beanpole forward slightly rushed his lob and pulled it just wide of the near-post.
Eventually, it was 2-0 when Harry Swain scored a bullet header having somehow been denied earlier in the game. Mossy played a one-two off the defender covering the near-post before clipping an inviting ball to the back stick. Not to be thwarted, Swain bulldozed his way through like an uglier version of Godzilla who’s good at swimming and pub-based games. The Donny Dipper left a trail of Japanese bodies behind as his power and strength continue to be a major asset from corners!
For the next 10 minutes or so, Shanghai Marlins were sloppy, particularly in possession with too many Stevie Wonder passes and failed Hollywood balls. Rosselli was inches from scoring during this period, as Ash Smith pressed brilliantly from the wing before laying the ball of for his teammate to drill narrowly wide.
Leclerq showed his partner how it’s done when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up before dummying his shot and rolling the ball past the hapless keeper.
He completed a first-half hat-trick when he showed a nice turn of pace to beat his marker on the byline and slotting home from close-range following a nice assist by Watson.
Mossy then made it five when he accepted the invitation to shoot from distance. Darren Chinderton’s cousin deceived the MMFC keeper with a swerving effort to all but seal the victory.
Just on the stroke of half-time, Man of the Match, Leclerq, got a fourth as he converted Smith’s cross from just right of the penalty spot.
At the break, Fishwick declared himself satisfied with the finish to the first-half but disappointed by the lack of composure during the middle phase. Consequently, he brought that on in abundance via Adam Helling-Christy, Carl Edwards and Ash Reid, while Fabio ‘El Toro’ Gillue would scare the composure out of anyone and did.
The half began with some simpler and more controlled passing, yet it was MMFC who much to their delight, clawed one back. Helling-Christy wasn’t given any options as he retrieved the ball in his own corner. The MMFC player intercepted and found his teammate who side-footed into the far corner much to Johnson’s annoyance.
Shanghai Marlins threatened to extend their lead as several opportunities went askew. Rosselli failed to go down to ground again making it three penalties in the last four games his stupid honesty have prevented. He did however, eventually hit the ground…on Monday morning walking to work in the rain in his leather shoes. #Bambionice
Having failed to sufficiently judge the bounces on Edwards’ and Leclerq’s fine through balls, Rosselli resorted to being a provider instead as he, Smith and Mossy combined nicely on the edge of the area. A sharp one-two between Mossy and Rosselli gave the former a shooting opportunity which he duly tucked into the corner, doubling his tally for the day and ending the scoring.
But there was still time for some high drama despite the game petering out like an unnecessarily long match report or Watson’s rap career.
The departing Moore is a sociable man willing to joke around whenever possible. On this occasion, the West Ham supporter made himself the joke as he picked up the ball near the halfway line, under no pressure. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Fuck all. Looking to glide forwards like a young version of his namesake, Bobby, the centre-back duly took a tumble. Fans and supporters alike started scanning the premises for a sniper as Moore got back to his feet, saw the opportunistic striker coming and turned on a sixpence before playing the ball out wide like it was all planned from the beginning.
With Mossy’s sides hurting from the laughing, referee Kevin called time on Fishwick’s, Moore’s, Griffiths’ and Reid’s penultimate game for the Marlins. The team gathered for a photo which fortunately had more takers than just Griffiths’ Ayi, while Helling-Christy saw to his recently born daughter, Benny, who was furious about the shitty hat she was forced to wear. Her mother’s words, not mine.
One more match remains for the Marlins to end their stop-start season on a high and give those departing the sendoff they deserve. Like many of the players’ wives over the last few months, it just needs one last push! Something Janine wished those present had done on Friday night.