Winless September ends on a positive note for Solihull Moors.
Played 5; Won 0, Drew 3, Lost 2; For 3, Against 10, GD -7; Points 3 Position: 17th
York City 4-0 Solihull Moors
In short: Moors collapse in final six minutes as one turned to four in thrashing
Starting XI: Lewis; Murombedzi, Fagbola (Sterling-James), Daly, Gough, Franklin; Beswick, Osborne; Knights (Moore); Brown, Asante (White)
Solihull Moors 2-5 Dagenham and Redbridge
In short: Relegated Dagenham thrash Moors despite late fightback
Starting XI: Vaughan; Fagbola, Koue Niate, Daly, Gough (Sterling-James), Franklin; Beswick, Osborne; Murombedzi (Knights); Moore, Brown
Goalscorers: Brown, Osborne (Knights)
Lincoln City 0-0 Solihull Moors
In short: Ten man Moors hold eventual champions to goalless draw
Starting XI: Vaughan; Fagbola, Daly, Koue Niate, Franklin; Murombedzi, Beswick, Osborne, Sterling-James (Moore); Knights (Byrne); White (Brown)
Gateshead 0-0 Solihull Moors
In short: Trip to North East sees Moors gain valuable point
Starting XI: Vaughan; Fagbola, Daly, Beswick, Franklin; Murombedzi, Osborne, Byrne, Sterling-James (Moore); Knights; Brown (White)
Solihull Moors 1-1 Boreham Wood
In short: Osborne ends goal drought in tough-fought draw against fellow part-timers
Starting XI: Vaughan; Fagbola, Daly, Gough, Franklin; Byrne; Murombedzi, Osborne, Beswick, Knights (Sterling-James); White (Asante)
3 – Andy Brown
2 – Harry White, Jamey Osborne
1 – Akwasi Asante, Ryan Beswick, Liam Daly, Jordan Fagbola, Shepherd Murombedzi, Omari Sterling-James
2 – Darryl Knights
1 – Akwasi Asante, Andy Brown, Liam Daly, Connor Franklin, Jordan Gough, Omari Sterling-James
Fixtures lists always seem to throw up a run of games that look ominous on paper, the games you look at wondering if you have enough points to hold your position in the table for a few games.
August ended awkwardly enough with Eastleigh and Macclesfield Town both victorious so facing off against relegated duo York City, unbeaten at home, and Dagenham and Redbridge proved just how tough a task this would be. If those four fixtures were not enough, league leaders Lincoln City would follow at Sincil Bank before a trip to the north east to play perennial overachievers Gateshead.
One major area of concern in the early weeks was the Moors’ inability to concentrate until the final whistle and York City made the most of that vulnerability in the first game of September.
The hosts had only netted once in the opening 84 minutes and with fresh legs on the pitch in the form of Omari Sterling-James, Harry White and Stefan Moore, the Moors were very much on the charge for an equaliser.
That was until Aidan Connolly decided he wanted to put the game to bed.
The winger added to Richard Brodie’s first half opener with a left-footed strike beyond Danny Lewis before his through ball found Kane Felix via a lucky bounce, Felix pulling the ball back to Scott Fenwick who made it three. The game was polished off in injury time when Connolly was played in behind a defence that appeared to have given up, rounding Danny Lewis and slotting into an empty net.
If home fans were expecting a reaction at home to the Daggers they were sadly mistaken. Inspired by an Ollie Hawkins hat-trick, Bignot was left watching on in disbelief as John Still’s men ran riot.
The Daggers had scored four before the home side offered any kind of resistance, Andy Brown’s weak effort taking a giant deflection to send Elliot Justham the wrong way and it was Déjà vu a couple of moments later when Jamey Osborne’s miskicked volley hit a Daggers defender and left Justham reeling at such injustice. Ollie Hawkins’ late penalty sealed a 5-2 defeat.
By the time the Lincoln City fixture came around Marcus Bignot had a real decision to make in order to stop the rot. The early excitement had diminished in favour of the stark reality of the challenge ahead. Four consecutive defeats wielding 14 goals conceded.
A change of system helped, as did the introduction of a more attacking starting XI, Harry White starting in attack with Darryl Knights, Shepherd Murombedzi and Sterling-James supporting in attack.
However, the game plan was all about discipline and utilising our pace on the counter-attack against the divisions in-form team. A scrappy first half suited us as Marriott and Arnold came close.
Jean Koue-Niate was harshly sent off on 50 minutes in what appeared to be the turning point in the game for the National League leaders but a mixture of Vaughan’s brilliance and the addition of experience from the bench helped the Moors see out a most impressive 0-0 draw, the ex-Worcester City keeper denying Matt Rhead, involved in the sending-off incident, Arnold and Tom Champion.
Things would hardly get easier with Gateshead next on the horizon. An awkward, slightly old-school 4-4-2 outfit reliant on a direct, diligent approach. Making matter worse was the play-off chasing North East outfit hoping to avenge a shock defeat to North Ferriby United the week before.
The Heed, at home in their atmosphere-less stadium, should have taken the lead when striker Danny Johnson pounced on Vaughan’s heavy touch only for the diminutive forward to lose out on the second ball.
It was hardly a game for the neutral but it mattered little to Marcus Bignot and his team who would openly acknowledge that any point was a good point given the circumstances. Darryl Knight forced a decent save but the 0-0 was another sign of progress.
The fifth and final game of September saw the arrival of Vital Solihull Moors editors Joel Cassidy and myself, Ryan Deeney, for the first time this season and as previously admitted, I could scarcely believe the transformation of the side in just a few months.
Maybe it was quality opposition coaxing stronger performances from the day’s hosts but the football itself was immediately more enjoyable, Jamey Osborne, Shepherd Murombedzi and Jordan Gough, who missed much of the promotion campaign, having a profound effect.
Boreham Wood are another club part-time outfits are hoping to emulate and their counter-attacking style made for a decent match against Moors’ enthusiastic squad.
Nathan Vaughan almost gifted the visitors the lead when he dropped the ball on the edge of his area, Colombian Angelo Balanta firing over from the edge of the box having swivelled away from his marker before Kenny Davis broke forward and struck the crossbar.
Jamey Osborne, installed as my immediate favourite footballer in the Moors starting XI on the evidence of this game, opened the scoring with a fine low strike that evaded the plethora of bodies in the area but The Wood hit back, Balanta’s sublime followed up in an instance by a deft flick past Vaughan.
September was ultimately a disappointing, winless month yet the change in style and mentality since the Dagenham and Redbridge thrashing gave everybody of a yellow and blue persuasion every right to be positive coming into October.