Summer had gone from the ATG Stadium as Hartlepool arrived on a damp day with persistent fine but soaking rain. The pitch was its usual immaculate state, but it was very slippery and at the end of 90 minutes that just may have had a say in Moors first home defeat this season albeit a narrow one.
“Pools” have only lost one game during the current campaign and having taken 15 points from their last 5 games were full of confidence. Although Moors had Kwame Thomas back on the bench and a fully fit Jamey Osborne, they were without the suspended Jamie Reckord.
Solihull made a strong start with Jermaine Hylton cutting in from the left before being clattered in the box although referee Hulme waved play on. Jamey Osborne found Adi Yussuf in front of goal, but the Moors striker could not get a shot in. The ball came back to Osborne but the shot was pushed around the post by Keeper Loach.
As Hartlepool launched their first meaningful attack, ominously Adi Yussuf was left sitting on the pitch as play went on around him – something was clearly wrong (later diagnosed as a groin injury) and he was immediately substituted for Kwame Thomas.
With “Pools “now getting into the game disaster struck on 19 minutes when Kyle Storer was red carded for a dangerous tackle as he slid in on Featherstone. Manager Flowers opted to carry on with the ten remaining players on the pitch but a game changer, it certainly would prove to be.
Osborne was upended some 25 yards out but his free kick to Liam Daly saw Loach perfectly placed. Hylton crossed from the left with a trademark outside footer but Danny Wright could not reach it. Loach dropped the ensuing corner but there were no Moors players there to take advantage. Darren Carter put Hylton away down the left flank but the cross was screwed back too far.
It was a great reply to the sending off but inevitably “Pools” were beginning to exploit the extra space. That said there were only three minutes of the half remaining when Ryan Boot was called upon to make his first meaningful save when Muir blasted from the edge of the box.
The last action of the half fell to the visitors but again Boot saved well.
Goalless at the interval was as much as Moors could have hoped for.
First action after the restart fell to the visitors with Muir in a one on one with Boot but the Moors shot stopper was first to the ball. Luke James let fly from 18 yards with the partially cleared ball dropping for Kitchen who hit the side netting, whist on eight minutes Boot made a tremendous one handed save as Muir, on the end of Featherstone’s pass, looked certain to score.
However, Hartlepool took the lead on 58 minutes when skipper Liam Noble teed himself up on the edge of the box to curl the ball into the far corner. 0 – 1.
Moors to their credit continued to swim against the tide; Osborne ‘s powerful run down the left saw his shot agonisingly wide of the upright and it was Osborne again, this time taking Wrights pass but firing over. In fact, at the midpoint stage of the half Solihull were having their best spell of the match but inevitably with ten men were susceptible to brakes.
With 20 minutes left on the clock Donaldson picked up a cross at the far post from Kitchen as it sailed over defence and attack alike but his volley hit the bar and away to safety.
Tim Flowers decided that it was time for fresh legs and Corey O’Keeffe replaced Danny Wright, with Dan Sweeney taking over from George Carline.
There was, however no way back and the visitors continued to press; Ryan Boot saved from Kioso at point blank range whilst Moors had to thank the calm but impressive Alex Gudger as he brilliantly defended a potential one on one.
It was a spirited effort from Solihull but the sending off just too high a mountain to climb.
The result sees Moors in tenth position with 16 points whilst Hartlepool move up to fourth on 19. All teams have now played 10 games.
Next Saturday Moors travel to Dover Athletic who unusually for them occupy the second from bottom position in the league. They are, however, never to be underestimated!
Match Sponsor “Gas Centre” Man of the Match Jamey Osborne
Moors: Boot, Williams, Storer, Daly, Gudger, Osborne, Carter, Yussuf (Thomas 8), Hylton, Carline (Sweeney 78), Wright (O’Keeffe 78). Subs Not Used: Maxwell, Murphy.
Pools: Loach, Kioso, Magnay, Anderson, Donaldson, Featherstone, Noble, McLaughlin (Woods 71), Kitching, Muir, James. Subs Not Used: Richardson, Hawkes, Newton, Dinanga.
Attendance 1311 (341 Hartlepool)
Report from John Clothier Photos Courtesy of Tom King