Shanghai Marlins looked to get back to winning ways following their first defeat of the season the previous week.
Standing in their way were a depleted Shanghai Kickers who could only muster nine players for the game’s first 10-minutes with that number then rising to 10 and eventually 12 by the start of the second half.
The Marlins had three new recruits which ensured a squad of 14 would be at Coach Carl Edwards’ disposal on a day that would require regular rotation.
Edwards’ pre-match preparations were a little more frantic than most as he tried to locate the team’s kit. Despite passing the dirty socks, shorts and shirts to Caesar on the Monday, they still hadn’t been returned. Eventually, Edwards received them via a scooter after some diplomatic pushing rather than hailing of Caesar.
In search of a fast start on a very spicy hot day, the Marlins tried to get an early breakthrough. Within the first couple of minutes, Pete Rosselli had a first-time volley from Gary Saunders’ pin-point cross parried wide by the Kickers’ goalkeeper and best player.
But just moments later Rosselli did find the net as Jack Sanders provided a buffet ball to the far-post for a side-foot volley.
Rosselli then doubled his tally as James Moss got in on the buffet balls. The man who drags his knuckles when dancing, played a well-weighted through ball down the left channel which allowed Rosselli’s galloping stride to get him close enough for an angled finish into the far corner.
There was a brief pause as the ball found a hole in the net and the linesman flagged for a goal kick. Thankfully, logic and honesty from spectators as well as the Kickers keeper prevailed and the goal was given.
Dragos Olaru nearly got his first Marlins goal with a long-range effort that clipped the crossbar, but the Romanian wouldn’t be denied later in the half as he emphatically dispatched the rebound from Mossy’s well-struck shot.
Despite plenty of possession and control of the game, the Marlins were unable to make their numerical advantage count for more than the 3-0 lead they took into half-time.
Jon Heaney did however nearly score one of the goals of the season following what is becoming a trademark dribble from defence. The miserable sod (on the pitch) carried the ball in a way that displayed the type of speed, guile and strength commonly associated with Argentinian number 10s. Unfortunately, Lionel Heaney’s – better than Diego because Jon loves a sing along – dink over the onrushing keeper struck the near-post leaving many teammates and bored pedestrians wondering, “What if…?”
At half-time, Shanghai Kickers picked up every said pedestrian to ensure they had at least one sub while the Marlins tried to cool down with water, shade and half-naked chit chat.
Harry Swain was cursing his performance and having a quiet moment to himself and his fancy new moon boots as Edwards reshuffled the pack for the start of the second period.
The second half began much like the first despite the even number of bodies on the pitch. After some probing, Mossy managed to beat the Kickers keeper and get the monkey off his back. A dummy with his eyes – which naturally happens after a Long Island – was enough to send the keeper the wrong way with the assist provided by new recruit Matty McColl.
The energetic, Thunderbird lookalike, McColl, capped a fine debut with a goal thanks to a header at the far-post. This time, it was Mossy doing the providing.
Straight from the restart, Shanghai Kickers got one back after a long toe punt down the pitch evaded the offside trap and left the returning Dale Johnson in goal, helpless.
The five-goal advantage was restored after some good work by debutant Mitch Matthews. His left-footed effort deflected onto the post and it was Rosselli who was able to control then volley back into the far corner to claim his hat-trick.
The other newbie was Nick Startbrook who put in a solid and physical performance at the back. He also brought a British accent that Edwards can understand which made a refreshing change.
With just over 10-minutes remaining, Mossy got his second of the game following some fine improvisation by Sanders, aka the Tory Cafu. His deft flick in a crowded penalty box allowed Mossy enough space to sweep home into the far left-corner.
The match finished 7-1 and the Marlins were just happy to get some dry clothes on and head to the Blue Marlin for some well-earned drinks.
Man of the Match: Jack Sanders
Two assists and a constant outlet on the right. A willing runner who provided plenty of support and buffet balls.
With three new arrivals, a man of the match and two maiden goals for the Marlins, it was bound to be a long Long Island fuelled evening.
McColl managed to do both of his consecutively while Matthews wasted no time in getting his river water equivalent down the jugular. Startbrook took it in his stride and showed no ill effects (in public at least), while Mossy was democratically voted to do Dragos’ as he was driving.
Unsurprisingly, Mossy was first to fall foul to his Long Island while Sanders’ sleepy time arrived a little earlier than usual. That encouraged an initially quiet and despondent Swainy to show some love and place his nut sack on Jack’s head. Then commemorate the moment with a hug.
Matthews had to go and prepare invitations for his inevitable housewarming party. Johnson, meanwhile, was trying to palm off a clean foosball table to Edwards and his children. Thankfully, the ping-pong table that contains way too many DNA samples was never on the…table, unlike Johnson’s arse.
All the talk about cheeseboards from Croatia – because that’s a normal souvenir to bring back – got Startbrook excited about an evening rendezvous. Being from London and having the sort of voice that should be announcing football results, it would be normal to assumer that his cheeseboard is full of Cathedral City reserve paired with the finest of vodkas.
McColl disappeared for a concerning amount of time, came back and then tried to leave before persuading himself to stay. Eventually, he left ahead of an 8:00 a.m. class on Monday which he was sent home from due to his state. #IremembermyfirstSundayFunday
Around 10 o’clock, Johnson headed home to give the foosball one last deep clean. The six still remaining headed for Bollywood to satisfy Edwards’ and Heaney’s lust for all things spicy and edible.
After teeing themselves up for a hot shit the following day and listening to Swainy and Mossy repeat their Saag jokes from the previous month, everyone headed home at the stroke of midnight as Jack’s phone disappeared like Cinderella’s glass slipper and this particular Sunday Funday was brought to a close.
Until the next one, gents…cheers!