Managerial change, defeat to ten men and more FA Cup drama, November proved quite the emotional rollercoaster.
Played 5; Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 3; For 5, Against 8, GD -3; Points 4 Position: 16th
Yeovil Town 2-2 Solihull Moors
In short: Bignot bids farewell in style thanks to Jack Byrne’s historic double
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi, Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Byrne, Jones (Sterling-James), Osborne; Brown, White (Asante)
Goalscorers: Byrne, Byrne
Solihull Moors 2-3 Dover Athletic
In short: Bertschin’s only game in charge ends in defeat thanks to Miller hat-trick
Starting XI: Lewis; Fagbola, Daly, Koue Niate, Franklin (Dielna); Byrne; Murombedzi, Osborne, Jones (White), Sterling-James (Asante); Brown
Goalscorers: Brown (Sterling-James), Asante (Murombedzi)
Solihull Moors 1-1 Yeovil Town
In short: McDonald begins with penalty shoot-out victory
Starting XI: Vaughan (Lewis); Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Byrne, Osborne, Murombedzi; Sterling-James, Brown (Asante), Knights (Jones)
Goalscorers: Asante (p)
Barrow 2-1 Solihull Moors
In short: Barrow inflict defeat on McDonald’s National League debut
Starting XI: Lewis; Fagbola, Koue Niate, Gough, Franklin; Byrne; Murombedzi, Jones (White), Osborne, Knights (Sterling-James); Asante
Goalscorers: Asante (Knights)
Torquay United 3-0 Solihull Moors
In short: Kieffer Moore hat-trick sees off limp Moors as McDonald addresses players on the pitch
Starting XI: Lewis; Obeng, Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Osborne, Murombedzi, Byrne; Sterling-James (Knights); Asante (White)
Debutants: Curtis Obeng
Solihull Moors 2-0 North Ferriby United
Starting XI: Lewis; Obeng, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Murombedzi, Osborne (Knights), Jones (Fagbola), Carline, Dielna; Asante (White)
In short: McDonald gets first victory as Asante finds his goalscoring touch once more
Goalscorers: Asante, Asante (Dielna)
Debutants: George Carline
Southport 0-0 Solihull Moors
Starting XI: Lewis; Obeng, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Dielna (Sterling-James), Osborne, Jones, Byrne, Carline; Asante
In short: Bore draw at Southport as Moors are frustratingly held
Description of goals: WATCH VIDEO
12 – Akwasi Asante
6 – Andy Brown
3 – Omari Sterling-James, Harry White
2 – Ryan Beswick, Jamey Osborne, Jack Byrne
1 – Liam Daly, Jordan Fagbola, Shepherd Murombedzi
3 – Omari Sterling-James, Darryl Knights
2 – Ryan Beswick, Liam Daly, Jamey Osborne
1 – Akwasi Asante, Andy Brown, Jack Byrne, Joel Dielna, Connor Franklin, Jordan Gough, Shepherd Murombedzi
As October turned to November the news seemed inevitable.
Paul Hurst had departed Grimsby Town for League One Shrewsbury Town and the Mariners were eyeing up Bignot. They had previous in appointing lower league bosses appointing Rob Scott and Hurst from National League North club Boston United. Bignot has shown longevity, built the club off the pitch and created a real spirit on the field in his five and a half years at Solihull Moors.
Everybody knew yet Solihull Moors travelled to Huish Park on Saturday 5th November 2016 with their legendary boss still in charge. Maybe he made that request to his new employers. Let me finish by managing the biggest game in this clubs entire history.
Whatever the reasons he was sat in despair as Solihull Moors fell behind in the first half, Ryan Hedges’ cross deflecting into the air and the ball onto his swinging left boot, rifled into the bottom corner. When Otis Khan produced a beautiful 25 yard curling free-kick in the second half to double the lead, the Moors appeared to be heading out.
That was until Kevin Dawson got himself naively sent off, another victim of Jamey Osborne’s wirey frame. Jack Byrne then wrote himself into the record books.
Shepherd Murombedzi was sharp and found Brown who attracted several Yeovil defenders. Panic had seemingly set in and uncontrolled challenges resulted in the ball falling perfectly for Byrne who took one touch and fired home.
Within ten minutes of the sending off we were level, Connor Franklin’s long throw unnerving the Glovers defence. Jack Byrne was left alone to pick up the pieces on the edge of the box again, his right-footed strike thrashed into the roof of the net. Glorious.
At the final whistle, and Moors knowing they would get to do this all again back in Solihull, Bignot was airlifted by his players before later stepping onto the team coach to praise the fans and the days performance.
Then came the words that confirmed his departure:
‘Personally from me, and my family as well, you’ve made us very welcome in these six years, they’ve moulded me into the person I am. In football, and football management, it’s ruthless, it’s cut throat and very rarely do you get a board, chairmen, supporters, players who for me, it’s a family. You know, I go into the football club every day, I see the same old faces and they’re old, they’re old. For me it’s a special football club and you can be proud of what we’ve done. We’ve dreamt of this, we’ve believed in it and now we’re achieving it.’
Two days later Marcus Bignot was announced as Grimsby Town manager.
The short-term fix was Keith Bertschin, the coach who followed Steve Bruce from Birmingham City to Wigan Athletic, Sunderland and Hull City.
Bertschin’s first game at the club was at home to play-off chasing Dover Athletic and his luck appeared to be in, Jack Parkinson receiving a red card when, while last man, he slipped and took Andy Brown with him. It took a while but when Brown did get his chance at goal he made it count.
Unfortunately for Bertschin Dover possessed the league’s least secret weapon. Ricky Miller would was the league’s leading marksmen and would go on to become the National League Player of the Year after scoring 40 goals.
Three of those 40 goals came at the ATG, his first a fine strike from 20 yards, his second a drilled left-footed effort across Danny Lewis and the third showing his poaching instincts. Asante’s late volley mattered little.
The Moors needed a lift ahead of their cup replay against Yeovil Town and the announcement of a new manager helped do the trick.
Liam McDonald was a virtual unknown to most but the 31 year-old took the reigns with an exciting CV having taken Redditch United from relegation candidates to 2nd place in the Southern Premier League before turning relegated Hednesford Town into promotion contenders in the Northern Premier League.
His eye for talent was also notable, Dan Scarr, Jamey Osborne, Cohen Bramall and Jermaine Hylton amongst those he had taken from obscurity and helped improve.
McDonald had the chance to make himself an immediate hero here though the players’ attitude would ultimately prove the biggest factor on a night when more history was made.
Yeovil Town were struggling at the time but could have won the game through an Eaves header cleared off the line and Khan’s wicked effort only bettered by the save Nathan Vaughan produced.
It took 99 minutes for the score to open, Francois Zoko almost breaking the crossbar with a thunderbolt effort. The lead almost lasted around a minute, Sterling-James, a livewire all night, narrowly placing wide of the far post.
The diminutive winger was causing all sorts of problems and having got behind the Yeovil defence once more he went down under slight contact from Liam Shepherd. I’d have been quite angry had a Moors defender given away such a penalty yet on the night we needed everything to go our way. Asante’s calm and collected penalty helped ensure it did.
It was a sign. The game went to penalties, the first of which Ryan Dickson blazed wide. Jack Byrne put Moors into the lead before Kevin Dawson and Eddie Jones followed suit. Yeovil’s third effort was saved brilliantly by substitute keeper Danny Lewis. Jordan Gough slotted home as did Francois Zoko which gave the man of the moment Sterling-James the chance to seal victory.
‘I was confident I was going to score’ he told Vital Moors after the game and with the relaxed nature of his run and cleanliness of his strike it’s difficult to argue with him.
McDonald’s honeymoon came to a swift end in the north west where play-off chasing Barrow hosted the new managers first league game. Unbeaten in the league at that point, Paul Cox’s bruisers scored twice in the first 15 minutes rendering Asante’s second half strike a mere consolation.
Next up was a trip to the other end of the country to play Torquay United where a Kieffer Moore hat-trick put Moors to the sword. McDonald kept the players out on the pitch after the game before publicly slating a performance he saw as indefensible.
Six defeats from seven in the league, the early good fortune had well and truly disappeared. If there was one fixture McDonald could choose on paper to get himself off the mark, North Ferriby United at home would have probably been just that.
George Carline made his debut in this late November fixture but it was Jamey Osborne performing at his best, the former Redditch United man getting the better of two opposition challenges before unleashing a long distance effort Rory Watson could not hold on to, Akwasi Asante alive to the situation to score the opener.
Asante is a player of raw power and strength and when up against him, the last thing you want to do is get too tight. North Ferriby failed to heed that warning and Asante killed the game off, rolling his man with ease before unleashing a vicious strike in off the underside of the bar.
A very long month finished in tame circumstances, Southport holding Moors to a bore draw to conclude a month that saw the end of one era and the beginning of another.