Looking to maintain their momentum from a great win against Lions the previous week, Shanghai Marlins took on bottom of the table Galacticos.
Despite a heavy night on Saturday celebrating Ash Smith’s birthday at the bumper cars club for 38-year-old South Korean hipsters, the squad did still turn up in the required numbers to play a ‘game’ of football.
Naturally, there were some arrivals later than others. New recruit Gary Saunders had a valid reason due to work commitments in Minhang while Karlton Watson was busy making his descent after a night on the Rocky Mountains.
Half the squad were delayed by Toby Rossiter – who was still wearing Aladdin’s magic carpet – and James Moss who managed to make the ordering of a cappuccino last 20 minutes longer than making love. Thanks for the facts, Leander.
The Marlins had a slightly better warm-up than last week but that still wasn’t enough for Jack Sanders and Wilson Scott as they both came off during the first half due to slightly tight muscles. Fortunately for Smith – who was understandably a shadow of himself, Sanders was able to return to the pitch for the second half. Sadly, there weren’t enough substitutes to save Rossiter, his quaver toe and 50p head.
Unsurprisingly, the game got off to a slow start but Pete Rosselli should have broken the deadlock after breaking the haphazard offside trap. Fortunately for Galacticos, the beanpole forward – who’s next on Chelsea’s list of tall ‘target men’ – was in a charitable mood as he side-footed tamely at goal.
With around 10-minutes played, the Marlins got the expected breakthrough following Coach Carl Edwards’ dragged volley across goal which Wilson Scott finished.
The Bearded Magician turned provider when he showed great patience to play Mossy through for the Macclesfield midfielder to drill home at the near-post.
The same two players combined for the team’s third goal with Scott’s well-weighted through ball allowing Mossy to expertly despatch his finish into the near top-corner.
With Scott now retiring from the game to save his hamstrings for another stool climb and prolonged speech, Saunders made his Marlins debut and displayed the kind of touch and accurate passing most of his hungover teammates failed to deliver.
That ability extended to a Rory Delap-esque throw which saw Rosselli chest between two defenders for Mossy to cap a first-half hat-trick with a well-struck shot.
Captain Jamie Lally – who calls his passes 10 seconds before he gets to the ball – made it five before half-time after capitalising on a poor goal kick. The Scouser managed to find the bottom corner from distance but showed the same joy of a Liverpool fan at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
Half-time saw little in way of team talk but there was the goalkeeper change of Edwards for Max Baier to give the German a run out for the second half. Smith retired alongside Scott to ensure the remaining 11 players saw the game through while the side-lined duo could plan their next party and flyer.
Edwards’ first task in goal was to receive the ball and scuff a pass to an opponent who failed to score from a difficult angle under pressure. An apologetic cry from the American left fellow Yank Adam Christy questioning whether or not he could take the resulting goal kick,
Galacticos also changed their keeper for the second half and that played a big part in the sixth goal. Lally hit the by-line down the left and his near-post cross looked to be in the keeper’s hands only for him to spill it like a drink held by Steve Fong, which allowed Rosselli to maintain his two-yard tap-in reputation.
Mossy got his fourth of the game after a neat one-two with Rosselli which forced the first-time right-foot finish that even baffled Georgi Chinkladze.
Saunders agreed to replace Edwards in goal halfway through the second period which allowed him enough time to play a delightful, in-swinging half-volley ball between two defenders for Rosselli to attempt a first-time volley. Unfortunately, his scuff-shot Sterling effort went wide of the post.
Lally made it eight…somehow, when after receiving a pass from Edwards – who had now vacated the goal – the captain’s weak attempt managed to bounce over the keeper’s despairing dive ala Ian Walker vs Liverpool.
The ninth was scored by goal hogging Mossy as he cut in from the right and curled his effort into the far bottom-corner following Sanders’ pass.
Karlton Watson was denied a blatant penalty as he got to the ball before the keeper who, along with referee Kevin Doherty, proclaimed his innocence. Doherty pointed out – with a straight face – that Watson ran out of steam and fallen over. A fair statement given that Watson had been doing Lally and some of Mossy’s running in the second half but hard to justify when he continued to do their legwork for the remainder of the game.
Watson was involved in the tenth goal as his attempted through ball to Rosselli saw a poor defensive clearance land at the feet of Lally who took his time before picking out his spot for his hat-trick. Still not happy.
Rosselli finished off the scoring after Christy’s break through the middle saw him clip a lovely ball behind the defence for the test-tube baby to slot past the keeper.
Baier nearly got his second goal of the season but the keeper denied him at the death from the angle.
It was an emphatic victory and a third consecutive clean sheet. The solid return of Geordie Dave Watson was a welcomed boost ahead of the next two fixtures prior to Chinese New Year with Japan up next on January 28th.
Man of the Match: James Moss
Despite failing to provide a single assist, the central midfielder made the most of Galacticos’ inability to track his runs from deep and displayed some good finishing along the way. Mossy can strike the ball quite well considering he’s got hooves for feet. Hoooooooves?
Despite being an early kick-off and the game finishing at 2:30 p.m., the last ones standing still found a way of staying out until midnight. Mossy, Edwards, Karlton, Sanders and Rosselli enjoyed a late Indian as the quality of conversation took a nosedive despite the intellectual topics discussed by the blossoming bromance of Karlton and Sanders earlier in the evening.
Mossy’s eyes were on a similar safari to his barnet as all he could muster from his horse-like face was “peado, five times, I remember my first… and whoooooooo?”
Jon Heaney and Harry Swain could have enjoyed another Sunday Funday with the lads but instead they chose to throw needles at numbered segments and play World of War Craft because that sort of event has to start in the morning. Knobs.
Incidentally, Heaney had been nominated by his friend (reportedly Stevie Wonder) to be Lionel Messi’s body double for an advert. Unfortunately, the Boro born-Brummy was deemed unsuitable despite his best efforts and action shots. Check out the extent of his conversation below: