Solihull Make The One Moor Man Count
Sam Walker was sent off, as the 10-man Hatters proceeded to concede two second-half goals at Solihull Moors and suffer a fourth successive defeat for the first time in over four years.
County’s first trip to Solihull since Halloween 2015 did not exorcise any demons on a ground that, in the course of three previous visits, had yielded just one point, and, on the most recent prior occasion, another red card in the form of Andy Robinson’s bizarre touchline dismissal.
Following a night and day that had seen the West Midlands lashed by heavy rain stirred up from the remains of Tropical Storm Humberto, a precautionary late-afternoon pitch inspection passed the Damson Park pitch as fit for play – and, three hours later, the Hatters duly took to the field showing four changes to the line-up that had started at Boreham Wood three days previously.
Ben Hinchliffe returned between the sticks in Ian Ormson’s stead, while the trio of substitutes used over the weekend – Sam Minihan, Connor Dimaio and Frank Mulhern – replaced Ben Jackson, Elliot Osborne and Nyal Bell, but Ash Palmer remained sidelined with the hip injury that had prevented him from playing then.
Both sides were seeking to put recent downturns in form behind them, and began with attacking intent – albeit without threatening each other’s final thirds. With a quarter of an hour played, the hosts’ first chance of note saw Callum Howe connect with a quickly-taken free-kick from the left by Jamey Osborne and drill wide of the near post from the edge of County’s box.
The Hatters, for their part, created a couple of opportunities from distance either side of Howe’s effort – as both Walker and then Dimaio tried their luck with long-range shots that were gathered up by home goalkeeper Ryan Boot.
Just ahead of the half-hour mark, Lee Vaughan’s snap-shot from the right stung Hinchliffe’s hands in front of the near upright. And eight minutes before the break, Adam Thomas delivered an inviting low cross from the right to Dimaio – but the latter’s effort from close range lacked pace and was comfortably held by Boot.
Only one minute of added time was announced – but it was to prove the most dramatic of the half by far, as Danny Wright’s goal-bound header was kept out by Walker’s hand, the County midfielder was shown a straight red card and the Moors were awarded a penalty. Adi Yussuf then stepped up to take the spot-kick, but delivered it weakly and Hinchliffe dived to his left to smother – thereby emulating Ormson, who had saved from 12 yards in the Hatters’ previous game.
HALF-TIME: Solihull 0, County 0.
Emerging for the second half a player down, but, for the first time in four matches, not having fallen behind, the Hatters re-started in a measured manner, only to be undone six minutes later.
Solihull earned the half’s first corner on the left, from where Jamey Osborne’s delivery found Howe at the near post – and the defender headed home for his inaugural goal as a Moor, as well as his team’s first in over five hours of play.
Eleven minutes later, the advantage was doubled courtesy of another header, as Jamie Reckord headed home from Wright’s cross.
The Moors proceeded to ravage – with Alex Gudger heading against the foot of a post, Paul Turnbull clearing Reckord’s shot off the line and Hinchliffe keeping out a fierce drive from just inside the area by Wright.
And just ahead of added time, two home substitutes combined to rattle the woodwork once more – with Paul McCallum heading Terry Hawkridge’s cross from the right on to the far upright.
FULL-TIME: Solihull 2 (Howe, 51; Reckord, 62), County 0.
Team (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Arthur, Keane, Cowan; Turnbull (Capt.), Walker; Thomas, Dimaio (Osborne, 63), Leesley (Jackson, 76); Mulhern (Bell, 63).
Unused Subs: Ormson, Greenhalgh.
Sent Off: Walker.
Attendance: 1,339 (233 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.