Steve Fishwick’s Shanghai Marlins ventured to Waigaoqiao to take on Galacticos in their fourth game of the season.
There was mild concern that the Marlins would be low on numbers due to absentees and suspensions. Fortunately, it was just another case of Captain Banksy miscalculating, much like he does when ordering post-match drinks or measuring his penis. He means cm not inches.
The 16 players (eventually) provided Fishwick with the luxury of squad rotation for a match his side were odds on favourites to win, even with Dave Watson deputising like a Geordie Claudio Bravo for the cat-napping, digital-watch illiterate, Dale Johnson.
Johnson’s need for an early afternoon snooze forced Adam Christy and Dan Griffiths to arrive at the pitch with little time to warm-up, or in Dan’s case, prepare his latest Ryan Gosling look.
It was the first time the boys in blue had played at Waigaoqiao and the field was far from conducive to the style of football the Marlins like to play, which only Banksy is fully aware of.
With Banksy and Tom Ryan displaying their team spirit and babysitting skills on the sidelines due to their one-match suspensions, the game got underway.
It wasn’t long until Jamie Lally opened the scoring with a left-foot drive that was too hot to handle for the Galacticos keeper.
Around 10-minutes later, Peter Rosselli converted Lally’s cut-back following a surging run down the right. Rosselli’s shot managed to find a gaping hole in the roof of the net but with assured conviction and a reputation for not being a bell-end, he made his way back to the halfway line as a sign to the referee that it 100% went in.
Shanghai Marlins had to wait a little longer before Steven Fong opened his Marlins’ account with a penalty which he had won despite his best efforts to excuse the defender’s clumsy challenge.
New daddy, Tony Love, came on to score a brace before half-time with two close-range efforts, but disappointingly, no Bebeto cradle celebration.
At half-time, Fishwick encouraged a faster tempo when possible having earlier alluded to players not just going for the glory goal. Johnson got excited until he realised the Gaffer had said “goal”, not “hole.”
Soon after the break, Lally doubled his tally for the match with a deflected effort that fellow Scouser, Banksy, was keen to note as an own-goal. The chance was set-up by Gui Leclerq but instigated by Griffiths’ (Gosling’s) cheeky back heel.
Wilson Scott, with boots that wouldn’t look out of place at a Saturday Night Fever themed party, went clear down the right channel and slotted past the onrushing keeper.
James Moss – who had hit the post during the first half – made it lucky number eight (Chinese reference, culture vulture) with a lob that peaked at 7-feet off the ground. The keeper’s suspect positioning and handling skills ensured Mossy added to his season’s tally of three.
Man of the match Lally would go on to complete his hat-trick by rounding the keeper after capitalising on a defender’s inability to clear Rosselli’s through ball.
Scott then finished off one of the goals of the game to make it 10. Leclerq had been longing for a Hollywood assist throughout the second half and the Bearded Magician duly obliged when his well-timed run, allowed him to barrel chest the inch-perfect 40-yard ball and open up the goal for a tap in with the keeper left stranded.
Mossy got his brace for the day after finishing a move that saw Leclerq and Scott combine around the Galacticos penalty area.
With several minutes of the game remaining and Johnson enjoying a quiet second half in goal, Lally couldn’t help but get into an argument. However, for once it wasn’t with himself. The forward didn’t take too kindly to what he perceived as unnecessary complaints when a tall and slim Galacticos player suggested to the referee that Lally had trodden on his foot. The words, “F**k off you lanky twat,” naturally saw Rosselli’s ears prick up, only to realise the phrase wasn’t directed at him for a change.
Not to be outdone by Lally’s jealous potty-mouth, Leclerq had the final say with the last kick of the game by providing a real thunderbastard from 25-yards out. The Frenchman was getting increasingly frustrated with his shooting throughout the second period but channelled that anger into a shot that three keepers – three of this keeper anyway – couldn’t stop. The ball flew into the top-right stanchion. Blink and you’d have thought it hit the bar. Both teams gasped as the referee brought proceedings to an end.
The comfortable win might not have fully tested the Marlins but they’d be glad to get more minutes on the pitch together ahead of a crunch game against reigning champions, Lions, in two-weeks.