On a day as hot as Dale Johnson with his shirt undone and a naked chest covered only by numerous medals, the fight for third saw chasers Shanghai Marlins take on current occupiers, ERS.
After prematurely enjoying their end of season party just two days earlier, the Marlins arrived at Jinqiao having barely recovered. Johnson was still finding unsuspecting waitresses to “fanny smack”, Dan Griffiths was happily throwing leftover drinks on people’s legs (Rodolfo Ossandon), Jon Banks was still peeling himself from off the Blue Marlin floor while Wilson Scott was picking out curtains at old people’s homes for his latest shirt.
Manager Steve Fishwick had a squad of 15 to choose from for the first half an hour before Ash Reid and PJ headed to their other game.
The Marlins gained an early foothold in the match as they looked to impose themselves early on. ERS appeared content to try and counter-attack against the reigning champions but it wasn’t enough as Shanghai Marlins dominated the first 45-minutes.
Jamie Lally provided the assist for the opening goal as he ran down the left channel before finding Pete Rosselli with a perfect cross. The beanpole striker nodded in from close range to give his side the lead.
Manager’s Player of the Year, Griffiths, then doubled his side’s advantage following a great corner by Players’ Player of the Year Scott. The ‘Rock’ in defence slid in at the far post to tap home, expertly avoiding a Phil Babb incident with the post. The manner of his celebration proved it was his first of the season as he mimicked an exaggerated ejaculation from an amplified penis. Perfect for the families in the area to witness.
Jamie Gerrard extended the Marlins lead to three with a well-taken goal. Reid’s pass saw Gerrard break the offside trap, cut in from the right and comfortably slot home with his left-foot.
Three became four when a swift attack was coolly finished by Lally. The Bearded Magician’s well-disguised pass played the Scouse striker in who then slotted past the keeper at the near-post.
Pete ‘Top-Knot’ Roberts made his long-awaited comeback following a broken back and nearly scored minutes after replacing Reid. The Welsh midfielder shot wide after Rosselli teed him up inside the area.
The boys in blue were running riot, as the French side appeared to be imitating some sort of general strike in defence. ERS had no shape, unlike the ones Cathal Grimes was pulling off on the Blue Marlin dance floor.
With a little under ten minutes before the break, Rosselli made it five with a simple finish from inside the box. Lally was again the provider after taking on half of the ERS defence. His deflected effort broke to Rosselli who side-footed first time into the far corner. ERS tried to claim offside which Simon Moore backed at half-time, although that’s the same Simon Moore who drunk Banksy under the (pool) table on Friday.
The Marlins lead was deserved as the squad was now reduced to 13 players. Johnson – who was still aiming for his first clean sheet of the season and reminiscing his karaoke performance – was due to be replaced by Fabio Gillue in goal at some point during the second period.
As is often the case, a big half-time lead makes it difficult for the leading side to maintain their performance levels but the Marlins would have managed that had the goal – like Loic Chudy – been a few inches bigger.
Gerrard was the first to strike the woodwork when he headed on to the bar following another great delivery by drum-invader Scott. Chudy then struck a near 30-yard free-kick against the underside of the crossbar with the goalkeeper flapping like Dave Watson against Gremio. Moments after the free-kick, Gerrard struck a thunder-bastard effort against the near-post which got everyone excited. The ERS keeper did well to avoid losing a finger and getting out of the firing line!
Johnson was safely off and eventually had a clean sheet to his name despite bundling into the goal with the ball at one point. ERS then got one back when the Marlins’ defence failed to clear their lines. Gillue was left with little chance as the French player drilled his shot from close-range.
Chudy thought he had retained the five-goal advantage only to be wrongly flagged offside. This was after Johnson – who found himself back upfront after his extensively well-publicised exploits against Lions – unselfishly crossed for his teammate.
With just minutes remaining, Gillue reminded everyone why he isn’t a natural goalkeeper as he and Watson exchanged enough pleasantries to allow the ERS player to nip in and score.
The final whistle was blown and the Marlins find themselves in pole position to claim third spot with two-games remaining and a five-point gap to close.