In their final league match before the Winter Break, Shanghai Marlins took on Shanghai Kickers at Waigaoqiao but only had 12 players to call upon of which half had early morning starts to contend with.
Part of the reason the squad was as short as a Harry Weinstein film proposal was because Dale ‘disappointment’ Johnson failed to follow his commitment, instead opting to stay at home with all his friends…and a bucket probably.
Despite the low numbers, lethargy and lack of balls, the Marlins got prepared for what they expected to be their most competitive fixture of the season. Having seen the size of the Kickers prior to kick-off, their expectations appeared correct, but what materialised was one of the most one-sided 2-0 victories ever witnessed.
Referee Kevin Doherty had no assistants in support as his contact had fled to Macau to put it all on black but got a controversial red instead. Referee reference, LOL.
As a result, both teams agreed to rely on Doherty to have the eyes of Mesut Ozïl as he attempted to see around corners and gauge the offsides.
The game kicked off and the Marlins took early control of possession. Pete Rosselli had the first chance of the game as he raced – if you can do so at a far from blistering pace – on to Wilson Scott’s through ball only to be thwarted by the onrushing Kickers’ keeper leading to a corner.
The beanpole forward was denied by the Australian keeper soon after as he directed his header from Jamie Lally’s cross towards the top corner.
Jameson Waugh was unfortunate not to find the net at the back stick as he slid in for a deep cross only to see his effort strike the crossbar.
Within 10 minutes, however, the Boys in Blue took the lead through Chris Bonner’s second of the season. Bonner managed to head another fine Lally cross into the far-corner to give the Marlins a deserved lead.
Despite the general height disadvantage, Shanghai Marlins posed plenty of problems from crosses into the box thanks to the quality delivery of Lally, James Moss, Jacky Alves (Sanders), Ash Smith and Scott. Unfortunately, the Brick-eater, Harry Swain, was helping knock down partition walls with nothing but his head and mouth.
One person who was never going to attack a ball in the air despite complaining about others not doing it was Mossy. The midfielder – who developed a craving for fruit pastilles ever since he was given some by a middle-aged man, wearing a tracksuit in Macclesfield 14 years ago – showed zero interest in heading the ball despite the fact a goal-kick was going right at him. Instead, the Macc man – who was close to launching his own Mac out of the car on the way to the game – decided it was the perfect moment to perform a tribute to his fashion sense and duck out. His concerns over the retention of his barnet proved more important than the retention of possession.
Lally tried to steady himself as the Kickers failed to clear their lines but his side-foot effort went narrowly wide of the far-post.
Scott’s far-post corner allowed Mossy to volley back across goal as Rosselli could only connect with his knee from point-blank range. Somehow, the keeper parried it away leaving both Rosselli, and particularly, Mossy, perplexed!
Mossy was later rebuffed by a fine save following a curling effort which the keeper tipped over as the Marlins squandered countless opportunities through great goalkeeping, bad luck and a lack of composure.
With 15 minutes of the half remaining, one of the moves of the match led to Bonner running clear on goal only to see his lobbed effort cleared off the line by a determined defender. Again, the Kickers keeper managed to get a hand on it to allow his teammate the chance of a clearance.
But 10 minutes later, the Marlins eventually doubled their lead as Bonner dispossessed the Kickers midfielder from a throw in which allowed Scott to play Lally through on goal. Taking his shot early, the Scouser, who had earlier bemoaned his lack of speed, coolly passed the ball into the bottom corner, leaving the impressive keeper stranded.
At the other end, Max Baier, had a very solid half with the backline in front of him, equally so. The Berlin Wall was a commanding presence throughout and would later draw gasps of disbelief from Mossy as he produced the type of throw Manuel Neuer would be proud of, carrying the halfway line.
Half-time came and the players discussed the importance of getting a third to kill the game off while emphasising the only way they’ll concede is by switching off.
Despite their good intentions, the Marlins failed to add to their tally as desperate defending, which included Rosselli’s unintentional block of Mossy’s clean strike which was going straight down the middle anyway, and yet more good goalkeeping kept the game competitive.
Scott managed to dance his way through the defence before seeing two efforts blocked by a combination of defenders and keeper. Waugh and Lally saw further attempts miss the target or saved while Bonner headed powerfully wide of the post. Mossy saw a couple of strikes blocked on the line or saved, and the midfielder was unfortunate to be on the wrong end of a bobble after he ran clear down the left.
Mossy went in search of glory as he stole the ball off Scott’s toes. The Bearded Magician had been in inspired form throughout as he donned his white predators, but despite receiving Rosselli’s squared ball with a nutmeg of the last defender, Mossy decided it was better to get in the way than let a master do his work. Thankfully, they were able to sit next to one another back at the Blue Marlin.
Rosselli was denied from the angle by the keeper’s trailing leg following a great through ball by Carl Edwards. The boat shoe wearing, Peter Crouch wannabe, nearly pulled off a touch and swivel volley from the edge of the box only to see it go over the bar before retiring himself for the remainder of the match having gone close but failing to score FIVE TIMES.
Edwards also had an attempted lob saved while Lally was denied a stonewall penalty in the dying moments.
There was still time for the Kickers – who did little to trouble the back five thanks to the great marshalling Adam Helling-Christy and Jon Heaney, intelligent use of the ball, brave tackling, recoveries and Baier’s consistently good starting positions – to go down to 10 men after two bookable offences.
There was a contentious period of 50/50s earlier in the half which led to Mossy getting a poke in the eye and his gaffer on and off the field backing him up with an off the ball kick out. Despite then receiving what he describes as a deserved punch in the head, Edwards still stands by the way he looked out for his little minion.
The game drew to a close and the Marlins maintained their 100% record. Disappointed not to have scored more goals, they can be proud of their efforts and the first clean sheet of the season.
Next up is the Santa Cup on December 3rd, but before that, the Xmas Party!
Man of the Match: Ash Smith
A very controlled and composed display by the left-back who has performed consistently throughout the season. His constant provision down the left, range of passing, deliveries into the box and defensive duties saw a well-earned Long Island Iced Tea head his way upon arrival at Blue Marlin!
The majority of the squad travelled back to base in Jinqiao to enjoy a few drinks and some food before the Premier League matches kicked off.
Jon Heaney – who had torn his arse during the game and now needs Rosselli’s baggy trousers – was going through the health and safety aspects of sweets before belittling the irresponsibleness of Nestle, Mars, Cadburys et al. leaving Rosselli in tears of laughter.
Mossy, like Sanders, was set on labelling everything and everyone a Tory Bastard while celebrating even the smallest of joys with a swing of the hanging lamps. He also provided an insight into his romantic side by proudly proclaiming that girlfriend and Queen of Tolerance, Leander, would have 10 green peppers (not red because of Man Utd) next to her name and he would even go as far as spray painting five of them blue. He’s the Shakespeare of our times people, which explains why he lives his days to a word calendar. Perplexed and flabbergasted were used more than once, much like his jokes. But it’s fine because his accent makes most things funnier.
Waugh celebrated his birthday and final Marlins appearance before heading back to America with the impressive consumption of a Long Island Iced Tea without showing any lasting effects. Father, Eric, had never been prouder.
The entire team told Swainy to f-off following yet another post-match no show. One shy of his goal tally now.
Scott had a failed order as his fajitas arrived with sliced tortilla making it near impossible to wrap anything more than a pepper from Mossy’s spicy measurement.
And finally, despite having a good head of hair and purposely hiring those who are less fortunate, Edwards deemed it wise to travel across the river. Apparently, watching Man City beat Arsenal late into the night at The Shed instead of at home across the road is a good idea. The persuasive power of alcohol and a couple of northerners who will make your face ache.
Cheers to another Sunday Funday guys, look at how fresh Mossy was on Monday morning.