Solihull Moors 0 AFC Fylde 1
By Luke Turner
Early goal wins it for Fylde but Moors' Dream Continues!.......writes John Clothier
On a Cold but generally sunny afternoon, Moors faced AFC Fylde in the first of the Vanarama National League Semi Final Play Offs. For the winner it would be a trip to Wembley to battle for the second promotion into the EFL, Leyton Orient having already taken the automatic place.
Moors were at full strength – Fylde very much buoyed by their 3 – 1 home win against Harrogate Town in the mid-week quarter final.
In the first minute Darren Carter found himself in space on the edge of the box but Jay Lynch tipped the shot over. Almost immediately Fylde broke away and Moors were one down – a cross came over from Luke Burke causing Kyle Storer and Coaster's Andy Bond to both fall as they challenged for possession – Danny Philliskirk picked up the loose ball and thundered it into the top of the net. Unbelievable! 0 -1.
On 5 minutes Bradley crossed to danger man, Danny Rowe at the near post - he drove the ball into the six yard box where Alex Reid miscued in front of goal but as Philliskirk rushed in to convert, Tyrone Williams cleared and saved Moors from conceding another goal.
Moors needed to settle and to do so quickly. On nine minutes a Darren Carter miss hit fell to Gudger but his shot, on the turn, produced a quality save from Lynch, and as Adi Yussuf followed up the spill, the Coasters keeper was there again diving at feet. The “Coasters” replied immediately but Bradley’s volley rebounded off the post and as Bond stormed in for a second attempt, Gudger cleared to safety. A Jamey Osborne corner was headed down by Daly but Storer’s shot was blocked. If nothing more, Solihull had survived the early pressure and were now very much on the front foot.
Ryan Boot needed the Physio for what looked like an ankle problem but was okay to continue.
On 20 minutes Rowe’s pass to Bradley cleared the defence but hit the Fylde player on the back – it was a half chance but a reminder that Danny Rowe had to be watched at every moment. Jamey Osborne’s long throw dropped for Yussuf but his shot, on the turn and under pressure from three defenders, lacked direction and power. Coaster’s captain, Byrne, was carded for the first of many fouls on Osborne - the Moorsman was through until caught from behind on the back of his ankle - Carter's free kick hit the wall with the follow up picked off the head of Williams by keeper Lynch.
On the half hour Burke was carded for yet another foul on Osborne. Moments later Rowe got on the end of Francis-Angol’s through ball but curled it way over the cross bar. Osborne drilled a low shot from 20 yards but this time it was Carter’s turn to sky the clearance.
On 37 minutes Ryan Boot was more than equal to Reid's effort from six yards out after a back heel from Bradley. Burke tried a long-range effort but again it was an easy take for Boot.
With four minutes to go before the interval Osborne was clattered yet again, this time by Philliskirk, just outside the area - Carter’s free kick found Daly in a crowded box but the powerful header was just wide.Lee Vaughan stole in on the right flank but the cross was too long.
Two added minutes failed to change the score. Half time 0 -1 with play now very even between the two sides .
Almost from the restart Osborne manoeuvred himself into space but his low shot was agonisingly just wide with Lynch at full stretch. Philliskirk for the second time upended Osborne but there was no card for Referee Rock. Lee Vaughan tried a volley but was blocked and then on 56 minutes, he made way for Jermaine Hylton as Moors reverted to a straight back four.
Liam Daly was yellow carded for a high foul on Reid which saw the Fylde attacker down for some 5 minutes but able to continue in “Terry Butcher” bandaged mode!
Moors were now very much in the ascendancy; Danny Wright pirouetted before firing for goal some 10 yards out but a little too wide of the post, Storer’s long ball over the Coaster’s defence was nodded down by Wright but cleared by Fylde over their own bar. Several corners in Solihull’s favour needed all of Lynch’s expertise the keep his team in front and it was their keeper again saving the day on 70 minutes when Osborne’s free kick to the far post was met perfectly by Daly only to see the goal bound header thwarted by an amazing save. Tyrone Williams was dispossessed by substitute, Haughton on 75 minutes but Boot was quickly out to prevent a one on one
IT was all Moors going for the precious equaliser; Osborne was put through by Storer but his 25 yard low drive was inches wide, Gudger out jumped the Fylde defence to meet Osborne’s cross but it was just off target again, whilst the wizardry of Hylton was causing the visitors real problems.
Fylde were awarded a free kick on 86 minutes when Williams fouled Haughton as he sliced through the Moors defence. Rowe stepped up but the wall held firm.
Moors now had Nathan Blissett on for Yussuf and Terry Hawkridge for Carter as they threw everything at Fylde. Hylton was so close to opening up the Coasters defence as he skipped past Francis Angol and dinked the ball across the goal line but it was cleared.
The Fourth Official indicated 6 added minutes . Osborne was brought down once more near the 18-yard line as he left defenders in his wake. The Moors midfielder dusted himself down and put the free kick around the wall but it hit the upright – absolute agony for the home crowd.
And so, it ended - defeat by just that solitary early goal. It was an enthralling match between two quality sides. Moors could not have tried harder but simply could not find the equaliser. Second in the highest Non League in the country , is remarkable in itself and a strong base upon which to plan the next assault! The Dream now goes into next season.
RE Digital Group Man of the Match – Liam Daly
Boot, Williams, Reckord, Storer, Daly, Gudger, Osborne, Carter (Hawkridge), Yussuf (Blissett), Wright, Vaughan (Hylton). Subs Not Used; Carline, Sbarra
Report from John Clothier Photos Courtesy of Tom King