Moors Improved But Defeated
Automated Technology Group Stadium
28.08.2017 // 15:00
Attendance: 1312 (570 visiting fans)
Solihull Moors ended August with a 2-0 defeat at home to promotion favourites Tranmere Rovers.
In a game of few chances, Moors fell behind when Andy Cook found Ollie Norburn on the edge of the box before provider turned to scorer with just under ten minutes to go.
It was a performance featuring positives and negatives in tandem, the scoreline meaning the latter took precedence as a display of defensive discipline was marred by a failure to create chances in open play against one of the division's strongest defence.
Given the short turnaround, McDonald made three changes to his starting XI, goalscorer Tahvon Campbell joined on the bench by Oladapo Afolayan and Paul Green with Tom Tonks, Tristan Dunkley and Jack Edwards all starting.
The game was delayed somewhat when Tranmere Rovers keeper Scott Davies spotted a hole in the top corner of the net despite the linesman apparently checking beforehand.
Cue eight minutes of hilarity as the visiting fans mocked all and sundry, the referee's assistant in particular. Jay McEveley was the first to try and fix the problem, jumping on the shoulders of his goalkeeper before a man with a ladder eventually came out to sort the netting out.
Home fans were calling for Nathan Vaughan to shoot for the most of the game but his primary job was keeping the ball out of the net, something he helped do when he forced Jeff Hughes to shoot from a tight angle, Fiacre Kelleher on the line to clear the strike away.
After just ten minutes, Moors had changed shape to match our opponents in a 3-5-2, a recurring theme as Moors mixed and matched throughout depending on the flow of the game. It allowed Edwards and Dunkley to pair up in attack and try to unsettle a defence that couldn't be punished by Darren Carter's free-kick.
It took just under 20 minutes for the visitors to open the scoring and once again it came on the back of a Moors long throw. Tonks' latest effort was headed out then cleared away towards Cook. Andy Cook read the bounce better than Kristian Green and after driving up field, he found Ollie Norburn's unchallenged run, the midfielder slotting home confidently.
Moors improved after the goal, Joel Kettle latching onto a left-wing cross from Tonks while Shepherd Murombedzi cut inside only to miskick his strike. Half-time led to the inevitable conversation starter of 'at least it's not 9'.
McDonald changed things early in the second half, Afolayan and Campbell replacing Tonks and Dunkley but it was Andy Mangan who had the first effort of the half, his header powered wide of the near post. Mangan was then denied by Vaughan after Kelleher forced him wide.
It was yet another brave second half display but try as we might, we couldn't quite open up a sturdy Tranmere defence unwilling to crack. Carter twice tried his luck but fired wide from distance before skying an effort from 12 yards.
Kalern Thomas' arrival gave Moors a burst of energy but it was Tranmere who were creating the better chances, Harris shooting wide, Norwood being denied brilliantly by Vaughan after a driving run then Harris volleying off the head of Norwood and wide.
One theme was Moors defenders standing still while calling for offsides and it eventually cost us. Connor Jennings' effort rebounded off Andy Cook who controlled and slotted home from close range as his opposition switched off, looking for a flag that never came. Game, set and match.
After Kalern Thomas' 30 yard strike, Tranmere produced some of their best football of the game. Firstly, substitute Adam Buxton's backheel fell for Jennings who was close with an outside of the foot effort. Buxton then got in behind Jordan Liburd only to lose the battle of wits against Nathan Vaughan.
The full-time whistle brought the game to its conclusion, Moors switching off twice and losing the game as a result. We defended better, looked like more a balanced, complete side but lacked the cutting edge to really hurt what was a strong Tranmere defence. Steve McNulty in particular was having none of it.
A tough August but signs of improvement. It's Aldershot Town away next.
Vaughan; K.Green, Kettle, Kelleher, Liburd; Tonks (Campbell), Carter; Murombedzi, Edwards (Thomas), Carline; Dunkley (Afolayan)