In the interests of honesty, I will advise that Wrexham were the one team I really wanted Solihull Moors to get one over this season.
The past four games have been horrible games. We’ve drawn one and lost three of those games, failing to score once. I’ve been witness to two of them and been left frustrated after both.
The first was a 1-0 defeat at the ATG courtesy of a very harsh penalty decision and our chances of victory ended when Jack Byrne did what many footballers wish they could do on a regular basis – punch Russell Penn. Wrexham continually cried wolf and while I’m not one to berate referee’s, it was frightening how easily he fell for the gamesmanship.
Then there was the 0-0 draw at the ATG under Mark Yates last season, a game so dull that it would have sent me to sleep had it not been for the freezing cold weather. A side fighting towards the top of the division barely laid a glove, instead spending the game on the edge of their own box doing their best to make life difficult for our ever-improving side. It was a hard watch.
So yes, as petty as it may seem, Wrexham were the side that I wanted Solihull Moors to beat this season.
With the above in mind, you can imagine how happy I was at the end of a hard-fought Bank Holiday Monday fixture that finished up Solihull Moors 1; Wrexham 0.
Tim Flowers made one change ahead of the game, giving Alex Gudger a first start since the opening day of the season after injury with Birmingham City youngster Corey O’Keeffe dropping to the bench. Tyrone Williams returned to his more familiar position of right-back and the side had a more balanced look about it from the off.
The first quarter of the game was a complete write-off. While there was more athleticism and willingness to play in the Wrexham ranks, both sides spent the early stages trying to turn the opposition backline but neither back four was budging.
Twenty-three minutes had been played by the time that either side mustered a notable effort on goal, Danny Wright’s knockdown finding Adi Yussuf who would have prodded home had Rob Lainton not been so sharp off his line. At the other end, Luke Summerfield had Ryan Boot stretching for the first time, his right-wing cross looping high and towards the far top corner. Boot just about steadied himself to keep the ball in his clutches.
Manny Smith’s injury was unfortunate but provided a boost for Tim Flowers’ men and a couple of minutes later, Adi Yussuf was turning his man on the right-hand side before forcing Lainton into an awkward save.
That was pretty much that. Half-time, a dud 0-0.
Wrexham took their time coming back out of the tunnel and clearly took their time getting themselves going for the second period, Shaun Pearson and Kevin Roberts mesmerised by the quick feet of Jermaine Hylton who found Osborne in space on the edge of the box. His shot curled wide.
On 55 minutes, Kevin Roberts’ right-wing cross was thankfully headed straight into the arms of Ryan Boot by Chris Holroyd. It was a rare forward foray from the visitors whose goalkeeper was thankful for his positioning when denying Danny Wright from close range and Adi Yussuf from distance after good footwork from the burly number 9.
From that point, the game became scrappy with the referee doing his best to wind both sets of supporters up and Moors assistant Gary Whild who was booked for kicking a water bottle onto the pitch.
As tempers started to flair, Moors finally took the lead. Kyle Storer’s free-kick found Liam Daly at the back post whose header back into the danger area was half-volleyed in by Alex Gudger who was revelled in the celebrations that followed.
Hylton almost added a second when another cross-shot just fell wide of the far top corner. Otherwise, the final 17 minutes of the game, including an incredible 8 minutes of added time, were played out scrappily, Moors happy to hold the ball in the corner and sparks flying.
Sam Ricketts became extremely vexed with the referee’s display following the goal and Kyle Storer became very unhappy with the intentions of Rekeil Pyke, leading to a few words between the pair, Wrexham captain Shaun Pearson and Moors’ resident big mouth Liam Daly. Corey O’Keeffe also angered the visitors by what can only be described as taking a booking for the team.
It was enough. The Moors held on for a first ever victory over a Wrexham side that sat pretty at the top of the division, unbeaten before their arrival at the ATG. Their support of over 1500 fans dwarfed our home following by a few hundred but it mattered little. And the home fans lapped up the celebrations that followed the final whistle.
Wrexham remain a dogged, awkward side to play. They will frustrate many-a-side this season but this was yet another showing of the determination to succeed amongst this group of players. Our third 1-0 victory of the season was a big one and long may it continue.
Get in there!!!
MOTM: Alex Gudger
His first home start and if this was anything to go by, we have signed a top quality central defender. Gudger was outstanding alongside Liam Daly, dominating aerially, providing balance thanks to his left-foot and topping it off by scoring the winner. A top display.
Starting XI: Boot; Williams, Daly, Gudger, Reckord; Storer, Osborne, Carter; Yussuf (O’Keeffe), Wright, Hylton (Carline). Subs: Maxwell, Murphy, Sweeney.