Solihull Moors’ fine start to the season continued with a 1-0 victory against Maidenhead United.
The Moors, who were playing at the Automated Technology Group Stadium for the first time this season, opened the scoring when Adi Yussuf side-footed the ball into the bottom corner.
It could, and perhaps should, have been more but Moors twice hit the post, once from a penalty and missed two guilt-edged chances later on that could have sealed victory. Jamie Reckord was sent off late on but Moors held on.
Tim Flowers was forced into two changes from the weekend with Kwame Thomas (head and neck) and Alex Gudger (knee) deemed not fit enough to play. Jermaine Hylton replaced the former on the right-hand side while George Carline was the replacement for Gudger, fitting in at right-back with Tyrone Williams moving into the centre of defence.
Our opposition were coming into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Gateshead and made three changes, moving back to a 4-3-3 system to match up The Moors. Christian Smith sat in the sitting midfield position, Rene Steer provided pace at left-back and Nana Owusu is a tricky winger.
Not that those changes made a difference with Moors very much the better side from the off. The left-hand side was proving a good area early on with Yussuf finding Wright and Reckord finding Hylton, neither forward able to take their opportunities.
Ryan Boot was called into action when a Nana Owusu “knuckle-ball” free-kick dipped and swerved towards his bottom corner but the keeper was able to palm the ball to safety.
The only goal of the game came on 26 minutes and it was all about Jermaine Hylton. Jamie Reckord’s cross was a bit too deep and Hylton recovered possession out on the right-hand side. He couldn’t outrun Steer so instead used his trickery and sharp movement to knock the ball through the legs of Maidenhead’s number 3, tiptoe around him and cut the ball back for Yussuf who did the rest.
After breaking in behind and finding the side-netting, Danny Wright earned a penalty. Yussuf couldn’t quite get his shot away but the loose ball was nicked by the new Moors number 19 before a covering defender sent him tumbling to the ground. Wright stepped up himself but hit the goal post.
Another Jermaine Hylton nutmeg – this time on Harold Odametey – had fans gushing on the sidelines before the half ended with a warning for Moors who allowed Ayo Obileye to sky a free header at the back post.
It took 12 minutes for there to be a notable effort in the second half and somehow The Moors didn’t lead by two, Williams forcing a good save from Pentney before Danny Wright forced a deflection and he has since agreed that we should not talk about his second effort.
Maidenhead finally built up a bit of momentum on the hour and The Moors did well to hold firm, Ryan Boot producing a good save to deny Christian Smith with a header from a set-piece, a route that proved successful last Boxing Day. The ball was being hung in and around the Moors area and Odametey’s eyes must have lit up when the ball fell to him 18 yards out but he was denied by a desperate deflection.
Flowers’ side got themselves back into the game and almost came up smelling of roses on a couple of occasions. Darren Carter couldn’t quite find the target with a 30-yard free-kick and Jamie Reckord almost broke the hand of Pentney with a rasping effort from close range, the keeper sharp in tipping the ball onto the post.
Jamey Osborne’s free-kick delivery from the left was sensational but Williams couldn’t turn the ball home despite having a seemingly free header. With ten minutes left to play, Carline and Storer linked up on the right, the former playing the latter in behind for a low cross that Hylton somehow failed to turn home. I’m still not sure whether it hit the bar or spun away from goal but either way, he had to score!
With time running out for the visitors to get an equaliser, they began to really put pressure on the Moors backline and Ryan Boot had to be sharp to stop Jamie Reckord registering an own goal after deflecting Odametey’s cross.
It was Reckord’s last notable action as he was sent off a moment later giving Marshall Willock the chance to make his Solihull Moors debut from the bench. The young centre-back slotted in at left-back for the final moments but positions mattered little with the game becoming a head-and-kick-it exercise.
Moors held on for the victory and a first clean sheet of the new campaign. Flowers’ men showed they could do it both ways on the night, at times playing some clever, incisive football while also digging in, doing the dirty work and leading each other all over the field.
The front three set the tone on the night. Danny Wright’s work ethic would leave you wondering whether he really is 33, Jermaine Hylton was at his best, twisting and turning his opposite number for fun while Adi Yussuf made it two in two. Yussuf has found himself stuck out on the left-hand side and though he doesn’t always look happy tracking back, his work ethic cannot be faulted.
Elsewhere, Kyle Storer led the side superbly in the middle of the park while Ryan Boot made some fine saves. Yet it was Tyrone Williams who caught the eye with another fine performance at centre-back. The term “makeshift centre-half” surely no longer applies to ex-Kidderminster Harriers man.
Moors go into Saturday’s game with Aldershot Town without Jamie Reckord and possibly Alex Gudger and Kwame Thomas once more. Yet confidence is high, everybody is playing their part and there’s no reason why we can’t start the new campaign with three straight wins.
Up the Moors!