On the soggiest of Sundays, Shanghai Marlins took on the Kickers in their third game of the season and first for four weeks.
The Jinqiao field was put to the test by what seemed an endless downpour as the squad of 16 assembled.
That squad boasted the three Suzhou Boys for the first time this season including the latest addition to the Marlins Academy, little Patrick.
Looking to get an early lead, the Marlins started off well with plenty of possession and territory. The breakthrough arrived within 10 minutes of the start as some good patient play down the right ended with Jamie Lally squaring to James Moss who coolly side-footed into the corner.
It wasn’t too long until the advantage was doubled when David ‘Schteïn’ Spröer beat the offside trap thanks to a fine ball by Jon Heaney. The German forward was clinical with his finish.
From an attacking sense, the remainder of the first half saw the Marlins fail to capitalise on openings and opportunities as the rain subsided.
At the other end, some composed goalkeeping by Rob De Filippo ensured his side still held a two-goal cushion heading into the break which arrived 210 seconds too early, but who’s counting?
Keen to get the third that would all but kill the game off, the Marlins went out on the attack at the beginning of the second period. But whilst they didn’t quite find that elusive goal, De Filippo pulled off another fine save from a point-blank header.
That proved to be the turning point as Mossy soon got his second and the Marlins’ third following another Lally assist.
Mossy was then denied his hat-trick which allowed Pete Rosselli to convert the rebound from close range. Referee Kevin Doherty correctly overruling his hesitant linesman who was earlier informed by Mossy that he’s allowed to actually use his flag.
The deeper the game went into the second half, the deeper the Kickers defence dropped which allowed the Marlins midfield plenty of space to create more chances.
Another well-weighted pass by Mossy put Rosselli through as the beanpole forward/ temporary tinker man dinked a finish into the far corner. His rope-a-dope tactic of not coming on until the hour-mark proved pivotal.
Shanghai Marlins found their ruthless streak as they then went on to add another three goals in the final 10 minutes.
Spröer converted a close-range effort following some good play by Dale Johnson and then Schteïn became provider as he crossed to Mossy who had acres of space to take a touch and volley home for his Long Island hat-trick.
John Trinder played an incisive pass to Fafa who flicked between two defenders to allow Spröer a clear chance for his hat-trick. Prone to the Sunday Funday Long Island, there was no doubt the astro wearing forward would get his hat-trick too.
Post-match celebrations couldn’t be enjoyed at Blue Marlin as the sponsor was having the sort of deep clean Harry Swain’s bedroom could do with on a Sunday morning.
As a result, the team made their way to Bollywood, which to everyone’s surprise had other customers. But arriving at 5:00 p.m. instead of 11:30 p.m. probably explained the difference.
Wisely, the Marlins were sent upstairs in what appeared to be a cross between an interrogation room and a school theatre with a couple of blinding lights.
Naan and bajjis were shared by all as Man of the Match and Harry Swain’s Hero of the Day were decided.
Man of the Match:Pete Roberts
Another solid performance at left-back and in midfield by the Welsh Caveman saw him take the honour of a peer pressured Long Island. His absence is always felt but thankfully, his succinct and constant communication has blessed his teammates ears for the last couple of games and long may it continue!
Harry Swain’s Hero of the Day:Rob De Filippo
Not only did Rob’s two big saves preserve the clean sheet at 2-0, but his composure with the ball at his feet helped trigger attacks from the back. Quality distribution is difficult at the best of times, let alone in the British-esque weather we had to deal with. Bringing along his two sons (also members of the Marlins Academy) to watch him attempt a Long Island was Dad of the Year stuff. Just remove the ice next time!
The next game is on Sunday 2ndDecember against the Lions. This is the first major test of the season which the Marlins will be looking to overcome before they defend the Santa Cup (Pot) the following week.