Solihull Moors 3 Havant & Waterlooville 2
By Luke Turner
Moors Cement Play Offs In Nail Biter..............Writes John Clothier
Moors welcomed the “Hawks” to the ATG Stadium for the first time when a win could secure their play off status whilst conversely a defeat for the visitors could see them relegated back to the National South. On a day which saw summerlike conditions in the first half and winter in the second, Moors were without Liam Daly (injured) and Jamey Osborne (ill)
It could not have started worse for Solihull when Ryan Boot and Tyrone Williams had a complete misunderstanding as the ball was lofted up into the danger zone in the first minute, gifting Joe Quigley an open goal much to the delight of the Hawks travelling fans . 0 – 1
Moors immediately looked for an equaliser; Darren Carter curled a shot which went harmlessly for a goal kick, Danny Wright was through but keeper, Bilboe, was there first and both Wight and Nathan Blissett could have made more of Terry Hawkridge’s dangerous corner. On 13 minutes Jamie Reckord put a decent cross into the box but Adi Yussuf headed over. Blissett got on the end of Yussuf’s nod down but the shot lacked power.
The Hawks were content to soak up the pressure and wait for an opportunity to break but Boot was quickly out of the traps to quell the danger when faced with a one on one. With 21 minutes played Quigley headed toward the top far corner of the net but Boot pushed it away at full stretch.
The pressure, however, payed off on 24 minutes when Tyrone Williams collected Carter’s corner and drilled the ball into the net from close range.1 – 1
A long George Carline throw into the box caused mayhem but Yussuf’s final touch from within the six-yard area was blocked. Havant retaliated but Boot was equal to Robinson’s free kick. Just past the half hour Yussuf fired from 18 yards through a melee of legs but the deflection saw the ball fly straight into the arms of Bilboe. Kyle Storer’s through ball to Yussuf was again safely dealt with by the keeper and when Wright timed his run into the box perfectly the shot was deflected for a corner
All square at the interval was not too bad given the pressure Moors put themselves under right at the start of the game!
Matt Stenson was on for Nathan Blissett as play resumed. Yussuf got on the end of Hawkridge ‘s pass down the right flank only to see his shot saved by Bilboe’s feet. A trademark Carter free kick undid the Hawk’s defence but the Moors front runners could not make contact whilst Yussuf’s pull back eluded Wright. Stenson was running directly at the Havant defence and causing problems right from the off.
Boot saved again at full stretch to deny Alfie Rutherford and although skipper Williams put a dangerous cross into Moors box, McNamara at the far post could take advantage. Stenson’s cross was collected by Hawkridge but just wide before on 68 minutes Stenson met a Carter free kick but it was just over the cross bar. Boot was well placed to deal with a Hawk’s free kick from the edge of the box. Another long Carline throw fell to Yussuf but he shot wide under pressure.
Fears were, however, allayed on 73 minutes when Carter’s in swinging corner was met by Alex Gudger’s bullet header and Solihull were up. 2 – 1 .
Stenson put Wright away but the target man miss kicked and with 10 minutes remaining it was Stenson again beating two defenders before unleashing a thunderbolt from 25 yards which slammed against the far post and away to safety. Havant, to their credit, knew they had to respond or their campaign in the National league was over and on 86 minutes a well taken Robinson corner was deflected by Gudger into his own net.2 – 2.
This was not a moment for the faint hearted especially when the visitors had a chance in the last minute of normal time but Boot saved from close range. The ball was pumped upfield for Storer to put a peach of a pass to the waiting Wright, who having beaten the off side trap, composed himself before slipping the ball under the keeper. 3 – 2
Moors safely saw out 4 added minutes to make history as they reach the play offs to the EFL for the first time. With Salford beating Maidstone and Orient getting a 93rd minute penalty to take all the points at Sutton, there is no change in the top 3. Three points separate The O’s, Salford and Moors with just 3 games to play. With Fylde losing at relegated Braintree and Harrogate going down at home to Boreham Wood, it is going to be a nail biting run in to the end of the season.
Moors travel to mid table Bromley on Good Friday and host Leyton Orient on Good Monday – both kick offs at 3.00 pm. Also on Good Monday Salford host AFC Fylde!
Man of the Match Danny Wright
Boot, Williams, Reckord, Storer, Gudger, Carter, Yussuf (Maxwell), Carline, Blissett (Stenson), Hawkridge (Sbarra). Subs Not Used; Hylton, Vaughan
Report from John Clothier Photos Courtesy of Richard King