The new Shanghai Premier League (SPL) season finally got up and running as the token first game against Japan took place at Wellington School.
Following an intense pre-season that included one training session; one friendly; one Suzhou away day against a pair of vans and the mother of all Pub Golfs, the Shanghai Marlins were as ready as ever. Their preparations were boosted by the 16-man (+2 boys) squad which allowed frequent rotation in the hope that some sort of tempo and intensity was maintained.
The game kicked off despite some aggressively marked and unnecessarily loud canoeing event disturbing the peace.
After a tentative opening 10-minutes, the Marlins broke the deadlock thanks to a debut goal for Matt Gilvary. James Moss crossed to the Irishman in space as he controlled it with his right and drilled home with his left.
Mossy made it two as he converted the rebound from new German recruit, David Spröer’s angled effort following good work by Pete Rosselli.
Fafa got the third as he finished the loose ball from Rosselli’s effort against the bar with the reigning Champions pulling away from their opponents.
That was Rosselli’s last involvement as he struggled to recover from a clearance to the head. Serves him right for having such a deep bonce. His replacement, Jamie Gerrard, would come on to cause havoc in the Japanese defence as the Boys in Blue ran riot for the remaining 25 minutes.
Mossy grabbed his second as he received the ball from Gilvary, opened up onto his left-foot and curled it top bins.
Fafa then doubled his tally following an assist by Mossy. The Madagascan King cut in from the left and fired beyond the stranded keeper.
Gerrard made it six with as clean a strike as you’re likely to see. Fafa teeing up the Marlins legend.
Six became seven when Mossy decided he was Charlie Adam as he spotted the keeper off his line. The only difference between Mossy and Adam is that he only needed one effort…and his pie arse is bigger.
He then wanted to emulate another Liverpool legend as he tried to mimic Steven Gerrard’s goal against Marseille in 2007. Receiving it from the left, he wrapped his much-favoured left-foot around the ball to deliver a curling dipping effort to the far-post.
Fafa then completed his hat-trick as he tapped home to finish a well-worked move down the right.
Half-time arrived and it was time for some further changes. Youth prospects, Myles Morrisson and Dave Kim were introduced for their competitive debuts as Rob de Filippo remained in goal in his first start for the Marlins.
The second-half was less eventful as Japan played for damage limitation and actually won the second period.
Their consolation goal came via a near-post header from a debateable freekick (if you’re asking Dave Watson).
Shanghai Marlins had a few chances to get into double-figures but through some unorthodox goalkeeping – particularly to deny Gaffer Carl Edwards a fine goal – and a lack of ruthlessness, the score finished 9-1.
Watson – who came out of his three-day retirement following Newcastle’s failure to get a result at Man Utd – did try to convince the humourless officials that he’d scored by raising his hand ala Alan Shearer despite clearly hitting the side-netting. We saw the funny side of it even if he didn’t.
Dragos Olaru got a bloody nose, Adam Christy got in his standard silky touch, Jon Heaney did (tried) a dummy while Mossy spat his out for actually being subbed with 10 minutes to go. Ash Smith was trying to cover two men and all of Japan’s subs at the same time while John Trinder tried to drown out the canoeing sound system with his heavy breathing. Harry Swain failed to get his usual goal against Japan but did bulldoze his way through three players at one point and completed three forward passes too. Dale Johnson went back to school as he held his hand in the air so long that he had to change arms yet still no one crossed to him.
Much to Rosselli’s frustrations, the referee brought the game to a close five minutes early, excluding injury-time. It messed up his rotation policy as he tried to appease everyone, except Mossy.
Man of the Match:James Moss
Four goals and two assists in a fine opening 45-minutes of the season ensured the Macclesfield Man gave his stats a great boost.
The majority of the squad made the arduous journey back to Blue Marlin knowing there will be plenty of beer waiting for them. And in Mossy, Swainy and Heaney’s case, some saag.
As those three developed their new dish of Saagy nachos, JT tried to fill the Steve Fishwick void by ordering off the menu and having a glass of wine.
Six Long Islands were consumed by the following players:
- James Moss x2 > Man of the Match and for throwing up on the bus back from Suzhou.
- David Spröer x1 > For throwing up on the bus back from Suzhou.
- Matt Gilvary x1 > For his first Marlins goal.
- Wilson Scott x1 > For returning to Shanghai post his knee op.
- Harry Swain x1 > For wearing black socks (prematurely) / Peer pressure.
Naturally, that led to some lights being tampered with, and chairs stood on as Gilvary and Trinder delivered initiation songs because that’s a one-week old tradition.
Mossy frequently shared the dead rat up his arse while Swainy continued his mission to hold the entire kit hostage at his home as he left with the kit bag, Mossy’s jacket and Edwards’ bag. The Donny thief.
All in all, it was a decent start to a new season but there’s plenty of room for improvement following the second-half (40 minutes) showing.
This coming Sunday is Galacticos on Wellington’s artificial pitch. Hope you don’t like grass.