Date: 24th December 2017 at 11:15am
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It’s the time of year where we talk about Christmas crackers like it is standard protocol for there to be a moment to remember as the days start to get a little bit longer.

Solihull Moors vs Boreham Wood was more burned turkey and more sprouts than pigs in blankets on your grand Christmas dinner.

Playing in front of a league low of 419 fans, Solihull Moors produced yet another performance that suggested the boys are very much up for the battle ahead.

Boreham Wood rocked up at the ATG sitting in the final play-off spot and were intent on bullying The Moors off the park. It’s clear that their success this season has been built on solid grounds with a physically imposing defence and midfield matched by an energetic, quick front line. If you’re going to get a result against Boreham Wood, you’ve got to be up for the battle.

Yates made two changes in preparing for this one. Darren Carter returned to the side after suspension while Jack Storer made a first start in blue and yellow, the duo replacing the suspended Jermaine Hylton and Oladapo Afolayan who may have had a recent knock judging on his lonely warm-up prior to kick-off.

While there is plenty of pride in the organisation of the side, it made for difficult viewing. If you were a neutral, you won’t be returning anytime soon.

The most notable happenings in the first 20 minutes were injury delays, Jamey Osborne catching Kieran Murtagh which somehow didn’t end up in a free-kick for our opposition while Kwame Thomas was replaced by Afolayan after being knocked out cold by Jamie Turley’s head.

Bruno Andrade had the first effort of note, firing well wide from 20 yards and he couldn’t do much better when played in by Kristian Green.

Jack Storer couldn`t get involved as much as he would have liked in a game where the ball spent as much time in the air as on the deck but he showed his quality with two efforts within a minute of each other, turning sharply and forcing Grant Smith into good saves at his far post.

Jamie Reckord followed up Monday night’s 45 yard volley with a first-time 40 yard effort that wasn’t far wide. The visitors had a goal disallowed with Darren Carter flattened in the area before Storer forced yet another save from Grant Smith with a 25 yard free-kick.

Jamey Osborne wasted little time in trying to make something happen in the second half but after beating three players he couldn’t hit the target with a delicate chip. That effort was a minute into the second half and it took over 20 minutes for another strike worthy of the name, Oladapo Afolayan shooting from the edge of the area.

After Liam Daly lost his bearings in the area allowing Andrade a cheeky poke towards goal, The Moors had their best chance of the afternoon. Afolayan had spent the game on the periphery but when he beat Smith to a loose ball, he thought he had opened the scoring only for Turley to clear off the line.

The youngster cut inside but saw a shot deflected over while Carter came close, his miskicked left-foot volley inadvertedly setting up him for another on his right-foot 30 yards out that hit the roof of the net. At the other end, O’Leary denied Shaun Jeffers with a strong save.

And that was that. A bore draw that ensured we enter Christmas bottom of the National League table yet it was another display that suggested we are not dead yet. Even if we are ten points behind 20th place Leyton Orient.

Looking back on the game, it’s clear that we didn’t just stop a strong Boreham Wood side from hurting us, we actually had the better chances to win the game. We perhaps missed Jermaine Hylton on the day but even he may have struggled to make something happen in this one.

There’s a lot of individualistic talent available to Yates and he will have to replace Storer and Osborne sufficiently when they return to their parent clubs. The gaffer has re-organised this side superbly but he needs goals. We have to start hurting teams at the other end of the pitch if we are to put together a run that gives us a fighting chance come March/April.

Starting XI: O’Leary; K.Green, Daly, Kelleher, Reckord; Osborne, P.Green, Carter; Murombedzi, Thomas (Afolayan), Storer (Carline)


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