We’re into a New Year with fresh aspirations for our teams across the football club. 2022 is up and running, and there’s plenty to catch up on…

Elite Academy

Head of Elite Youth Development, Mike Fowler, says he is ‘delighted’ with the progress made on the programme so far, but stresses that there’s still a long way to go.

Moors are fighting on various fronts when it comes to league and cup competitions, as the group continue their development both on the football pitch and in the classroom.

In the National League Under 19 Alliance, Moors sit top of the North Division tree on 28 points and extended their lead following last Wednesday’s 3-1 victory at Notts County.

Division G sees Moors placed in fourth, just three points behind Romulus in second and with a game in hand – Hednesford Town lead the way in that 12-team league.

Elsewhere, there’s a real battle around the upper echelons of the Midland Floodlit Youth League where Moors compete in the Southern Division on Monday evenings.

Leading the pack are Stourbridge on 27 points but Moors, who are in second, could close the gap to just two points if they succeed in winning their two games in hand.

“We’re looking at the development of the individuals rather than the success and they’ve got to learn through winning and losing,” Fowler said.

“We’ve lost a few games this season but also, at the same time, have done well and had success in games. There are lads out playing step five football and a couple at step four at the age of 16, which is phenomenal.

“I’m delighted with their progress, and it’s been a very good start, but there’s a long way to go.”

Moors bowed out of the National League Academy Cup following a 5-4 penalty shootout defeat to Grimsby Town on Wednesday afternoon.

Fowler’s side twice came from behind, with Leo Wood at the double and equalising seven minutes into stoppage time with the final kick of the game which finished 2-2.

Zion Nisbett was heavily involved in both goals as a sensational turn, which took out three players, provided the assist for the first leveller.

The Mariners regained their lead from the penalty spot before Wood converted his own penalty after Nisbett had been taken out by the opposition goalkeeper.

However, the visitors were unnerved from 12 yards and found the back of the net with all five spot kicks to progress from the second-round tie.

After the game, Fowler said: “We are naturally disappointed with the result, but the performance wasn’t quite there and, on reflection, a share of the spoils was fair – the lottery of penalties then decided the game.

“I thought we were slow to get into our stride and there were uncharacteristic individual errors early in the game, a lack of quality in the final third didn’t allow us to be as effective as we can be.

“I felt we were a bit more like ourselves in the second half and in the attacking third, Zion Nisbett in particular caused them a lot of problems and was heavily involved in getting us back level.

“It certainly wasn’t our best performance against tough opposition, but we will better for it.”

The Elite Academy remain in two other cup competitions, and the first of those takes place tonight with a trip to Kidderminster Harriers in the fourth round of the Midland Floodlit Youth League Cup.

With a place in the quarter-final up for grabs, coach Finley Hodson-Cox said:

“We’re really looking forward to the game tonight, it’s another cup competition against tough opposition in the league above.

“It’s a good chance for us to test ourselves – we want to stick to our principles and the way we want to play.

“We want to dominate in and out of possession, be ruthless in front of goal and take the game to them while, at the same time, be disciplined at the back.”

Looking ahead to next month, Moors take on Bedworth United for a place in the final of the Joel Richards Memorial Cup.

The semi-final will be played on Valentine’s Day, with Moors progressing past Nuneaton Borough, Stratford Town, and Kenilworth Sporting to reach the last four.

Foundation

Moors’ popular Christmas Holiday Camp was thriving as 2021 came to a close. The Foundation ran the camp across a 10-day period over Christmas, with more than 230 children aged between 4 and 15 attending.

Thanks to the HAF funding through Solihull MBC, hot meals were provided to participants each day ensuring they could leave every last ounce out on the football pitch!

We were also able to give out toys and goodie bags thanks to the donations collected from #ArthursRun, a toy appeal set up by Millwall FC supporter Pete Millington-Lee in memory of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

A huge thank you goes to all the staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly across the camp to make it all possible!

One parent only had positive words to say:

“My two sons came to the days arranged this week at the Moors. I just want to say thank you as they both really enjoyed it, and this really helped me with work.

“I wasn’t on pick-ups so if you could pass on my thanks to the coaches as well, please. My youngest does have some additional help at school for his speech so he is not the easiest child - I really appreciate the coaches’ understanding and help with him, he really enjoyed it and is sad he is not going back.”

Women

During the Christmas break, Tom Blaymires and Ben Davis have been busy making reinforcements to their squad, with two new players coming through the door. The signings of both Ellie Danilewicz and Emmalee Hornsby show their intentions for the rest of the season as they get ready for the second half of the 2021/22 campaign.

Those two additions take their signing total to EIGHT and there could yet be more new faces coming into the building.

See Moors Women back in action this coming weekend for their first outing of the New Year as they travel to Long Eaton United Ladies on Sunday looking to avenge their defeat back in October.

Football & Education

Wednesday 5th January 2022 saw the first game of the New Year for one of our three sides at Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst as Paul Hasker’s team returned to action.

On the back of two defeats before the Christmas break, Moors were hoping to put that right in this encounter. However, the size of the challenge couldn’t have been greater as they hosted Simon Johnson Universal, who had gone the whole of 2021 unbeaten.

The magnitude of the task didn’t affect Moors though! On paper, Moors were the underdogs, but they didn’t show any fear.

A thunderbolt from Kurtis Wood, added to by goals from Jamario Belnavis and Connor Mannion sealed a 3-1 win for the home side to secure just their second victory of the campaign to lift them up one place and condemn the visitors to their first defeat of the season, but also their first for over a year.

Youth & Junior – Festive Tournaments

During the brief break over Christmas, some Moors sides were invited to participate in tournaments.

The first of those would be our Under 16’s, coached by Paul Murtagh, as they travelled down to Redditch United for their annual winter tournament. Our youngsters started off very well, as they managed to top their group and head through to the latter stages of the competition. After some very, very strong performances, the young Moors side found themselves in the final where they came up against a tough Northfield Town outfit. Despite their best efforts, Moors finished runners-up after a late 2-0 defeat. A huge well done to everyone involved in our Under 16’s for an incredible run!

Elsewhere, Michael Mountford’s Under 10’s travelled to Star City to participate in the ‘Friendly Arden Forest Christmas Tournament’. After a strong opening, Moors topped their group and went on to win all their knockout games, before eventually going on to win the tournament itself! A fantastic achievement by our youngsters, and a huge well done to all the parents along with the coaching staff. We would also like to thank Wayne Brownhill for inviting our youngsters down to participate.

Moving on to the third team involved in a tournament during the festive season, as our Under 9’s hit the road to our Football and Education training facility. On December 29th, Tony Geraghty and Pat Moriarty’s side would take on teams from the West Midlands. Moors were initially faced with the task of getting out of the group stage, in which they finished 2nd, and that was enough to lift them into the latter stages of the tournament.

During the knockout rounds, Moors came out roaring. Eventually after four games, Moors would reach their target of the final. However, after a draw in normal time, Moors and their opponents, Hillfield Whites, were faced with the challenge of penalties. Unfortunately, Moors fell just short from the spot and finished runners-up of the tournament in the cruellest of manners. But again, a huge well done for the effort levels and spirit maintained throughout!

In other news, the first tournament outing of 2022 would be one to remember and saviour. Having merged with Moors in the summer, Sam Brown’s side have been phenomenal this season and remained unbeaten heading into the New Year.

The 2015/16 Premier League champions and 2020/21 FA Cup winners, Leicester City, invited clubs from all around the West Midlands to participate in one of their tournaments at their brand-new state-of-the-art training facility. The tournament would start off well and finish superbly as Sam’s Under 8’s would go on to win! A huge congratulations to the young side as they secured silverware - a great way to set their stall out for the New Year.