Our review of Solihull Moors’ campaign begins with a busy but delightful August.
Played 7; Won 3, Drawn 1, Lost 3; For 11, Against 11, GD 0; Points 6; Position: 13th
Sutton United 1-3 Solihull Moors
In short: 4G pitch no concern for Moors who mark landmark day with victory
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi, Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Beswick, Knights (Moseley); Sterling-James; Brown (White), Moore (Asante)
Goalscorers (assist): Beswick (Knights), Sterling-James (Daly), Brown (Asante)
Debutants: Jordan Fagbola, Shepherd Murombedzi, Omari Sterling-James, Bobby Moseley, Harry White
Solihull Moors 2-2 Woking
In short: Moors come from two goals behind to gain point in first ever National League game in Solihull
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi, Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Beswick (Knights), Osborne; Sterling-James; Moore (Asante), Brown (White)
Goalscorers (assist): White, Fagbola
Debutants: Jamey Osborne
Solihull Moors 1-0 Bromley
In short: First National League clan sheet secured as Daly gets winner vs Bromley
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi, Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Byrne, Osborne; Sterling-James (Knights); Moore (White), Brown (Beswick)
Goalscorers (assist): Daly (Gough)
Wrexham 1-0 Solihull Moors
In short: Unbeaten run comes to an end thanks to 93rd minute winner
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi, Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Osborne (Beswick), Byrne; Knights; White (Brown), Asante (Sterling-James)
Goalscorers (assist): N/A
Solihull Moors 3-2 Guiseley
In short: Andy Brown’s double and late assist for White gives Moors third victory in five matches
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi (Sterling-James), Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Osborne, Byrne (Beswick); Knights; Asante (White), Brown
Goalscorers (assist): Brown (Franklin), Brown (Sterling-James), White (Brown)
Eastleigh 2-0 Solihull Moors
In short: Cash-rich Eastleigh make set-pieces count as Moors lose for only second time this season
Starting XI: Vaughan; Fagbola, Koue Niate, Daly, Gough (Moore), Moseley (Murombedzi); Beswick, Byrne; Knights (Franklin); Brown, Sterling-James
Goalscorers (assist): N/A
Debutants: Nathan Vaughan, Jean Koue Niate
Solihull Moors 2-3 Macclesfield Town
In short: A red card, three penalties and a five-goal thriller lost to 93rd minute Ollie Noburn strike
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi (Beswick), Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Osborne, Byrne; Knights (Sterling-James); Asante, White (Moore)
Goalscorers (assist): Murombedzi, Asante (p)
3 – Andy Brown
2 – Harry White
1 – Akwasi Asante, Ryan Beswick, Liam Daly, Jordan Fagbola, Shepherd Murombedzi, Omari Sterling-James
1 – Akwasi Asante, Andy Brown, Liam Daly, Connor Franklin, Jordan Gough, Darryl Knights, Omari Sterling-James
Somebody had a bit of fun with the opening day fixtures.
Football League stalwarts York City against promotion Maidstone United, minnows North Ferriby United facing last season’s surprise package Braintree Town and a match-up between the National League North and National League South champions.
Both Solihull Moors and Sutton United were promoted properly. Part-time clubs who had invested their trust in their managers to oversee on the pitch matters, the patience and hard work over so many years resulting in both clubs topping the league in style. The only difference was that coming into the new season it was Solihull Moors expected to make the drop back to normality. Little Solihull Moors a secure National League club? Not a chance.
The opening month showed everybody what the Moors were about. Organised, direct and ruthless when chances arrived. Facing off against four part-time outfits in the opening five matches, Bignot’s team gained ten points and set up immediately to secure their status.
Sutton United’s and their 4G pitch provided the first challenge as Bignot gave club debuts to Jordan Fagbola, Shepherd Murombedzi and Omari Sterling-James from the start in his tried and trusted 5-2-1-2 system.
Ryan Beswick was the history maker, the seven year veteran marking the club’s National League debut by scoring our first ever fifth tier goal when he slotted home from Darryl Knights’ cutback. Unfortunately the hosts drew level before half-time.
Former Cheltenham Town winger Sterling-James was always expected to make a big impact having made the step down to part-time football and he announced himself in style with a volleyed finish to put his new side ahead, Andy Brown finishing the job off after beating the offside trap.
The feel-good factor looked to have quashed when Woking visited the Automated Technology Group Stadium for the first time when Nathan Ralph and Zak Ansah scored either side of half-time.
Yet promotion was hardly done by easing off when the games got tough and newboys Harry White and Fagbola had clearly been bred into the mindset of their team-mates, White scoring the equaliser when he latched on to a loose ball at close range. Fagbola finished the job with another rebounded finish after White’s effort was stopped.
As if the opening week had not been good enough, the Moors proved they could also grind out results in the most difficult of fashions as pointless and scoreless Bromley visited Solihull.
The South East London outfit were a club that we had to try and emulate considering their impressive rise up the divisions, The Ravens recently abandoning their regular spot in the Isthmian League by winning promotion to the Conference South which they won in 2014/15 before a comfortable mid-table finish in their inaugural campaign.
This game was a dour affair, proven by the BT Sport highlights which showed a tackle and a header that finished up closer to the corner flag than Danny Lewis’ net. Liam Daly’s looped header from Jordan Gough’s right-wing delivery secured all three points. ‘I’ve got to be happy’ beamed Bignot post-match.
Our first major test came with the away trip to Wrexham AFC, our fourth game in a frantic opening 10 days of the new season. One of the division’s many full-time outfits and a club who had never played non-league football until their relegation from the Football League in 2008, this was the type of fixture we were thrilled to be playing.
Unfortunately the Welsh club broke Moors hearts when they stole victory in the 93rd minute of the game, Sean Newton’s wicked left-footed cross found Mark Carrington at the back post.
If there were any concerns that that defeat would have a knock-on effect on future results it was dumfounded as former Conference North rivals Guiseley would testify.
Guiseley had yet to record a point in their opening four games with the previous season’s poor run-in continuing into the new season and they fell behind at Damson Park when Darryl Knight’s wicked volley fell for Connor Franklin who crossed for Brown to nod home.
They threatened a revival when the talented Will Hatfield played a one-two before striking an effort too hot to handle for Lewis and the turnaround was complete thirteen minutes from time when Adam Boyes outmuscled Franklin and poked under the Moors keeper.
Andy Brown was having one of those games, however, where everything would go right. He scored the equaliser from Sterling-James delicious right-wing cross and on 84 minutes it was his knockdown that landed perfectly for White to run on and smash beyond the Guiseley number one.
Sitting in the dizzy heights of fifth reality soon hit with Eastleigh and Macclesfield Town next up on the fixture list.
Eastleigh’s payload had allowed them to bring in centre-halves of Ryan Cresswell and Reda Johnson’s calibre, one part of Northampton Town’s barnstorming League Two promotion and the other captain of League One Coventry City the season before. And that’s just two of them.
Despite Sterling-James hitting the post in the first half it was the aforementioned duo who scored victory for the southern club, the first a flick from a near post corner and the second a bullet header from a long throw.
As for the defeat at home to Macclesfield Town, it was further proof that the Moors did have what it takes to harm the full-time clubs but that fitness and concentration levels would have to improve if early form was to continue for the long haul.
Shepherd Murombedzi’s first goal in a Solihull Moors jersey gave us the lead 22 minutes in before a bizarre spell of three penalties in seven minutes either side of half-time, Kingsley James scoring two of them for the visitors either side of Akwasi Asante’s first goal of the season. Unfortunately there was more 93rd minute drama at the wrong end as Ollie Norburn struck the winner.
A blistering start to a month that finished with late heartbreak. Could this be the story of our season?