Dapo Double Downs Chester
Automated Technology Group Stadium
05.09.2017 // 19:45
A wet Tuesday night saw Solihull Moors gain their second victory and first clean sheet of the season.
Oladapo Afolayan was the star, scoring the opener when found by Zain Westbrooke's delightful reverse pass. Westbrooke was given a straight red card with 17 minutes left to play but Afolayan secured victory after latching onto Murombedzi's low cross.
The game, rescheduled due to the opening day postponement, started unceremoniously for Liam McDonald who was left reeling at the state of the away dugout - quite possibly because it meant he, his coaching staff and players would be left to sit on plastic chairs next to the dugout in front of the supporters.
The Solihull Moors boss, typically matching his jumper, shirt and tie combination with trousers and shoes despite the earlier downfall, made three changes for the clash as Zain Westbrooke made his first senior start alongside the returning Joel Kettle and Jordan Cullinane-Liburd. Fiacre Kelleher, Daniel Cleary and Kalern Thomas dropped to the bench.
The visitors started brightly, zipping the ball about on the rain-soaked surface but it was Moors looking more dangerous thanks to a more direct approach. Afolayan headed Liburd's hopeful cross wide before good work from Westbrooke ended with a left-footed strike flying over the bar.
Chester were struggling to contain the Moors front two and on sixteen minutes they were made to pay. Afolayan's loose touch was collected by Westbrooke who played a reverse ball into the feet of the Moors striker. He took one touch out of his feet and fired home for the lead.
Chances were few and far between with confidence evidently sapped from the Chester players although Jordan Chappell twice found himself in behind, Jordan Liburd's sharp turn of foot twice getting the Moors out of trouble.
Afolayan was having arguably his best game of the season and he came close with a slightly miskicked effort that fell just past the far post. The young forward then had a shot blocked for a corner, Carter's delivery headed over by Tahvon Campbell at the back post.
Campbell was off-target at the back post again two minutes into the second half after Liburd hooked Carter's free-kick across goal. Nyal Bell and Craig Mahon had rare Chester opportunities either side of a Liam Daly header that looped just over the bar.
A scrappy ten minutes resulted in three bookings before the referee showed a red card to Zain Westbrooke. The Chester players went crazy after the young Brentford midfielders challenge which consisted of one stud raised ankle height and clear contact with the ball being made. Harsh.
Not that it mattered too much as four minutes Oladapo Afolayan put the game to bed. The tireless Shepherd Murombedzi closed down a weak Rowe-Turner clearance, turned swiftly and passed across goal towards Afolayan who powered the ball home from a couple of yards.
Craig Mahon remained a lively figure for the visitors, as did one supporter stood yards away from the 'away' dugout shouting abuse towards McCarthy. One became many and stewards were called across to avoid fans getting too close. On the pitch, Murombedzi came close with a whipped, curling effort that would have put gloss on a superb win.
All-round it was a fantastic performance. Afolayan undoubtedly stole the show with his brace but Zain Westbrooke was another whose quick feet and eye for a pass were most impressive. Then there was the defence that looked as strong as it for months, Nathan Vaughan the last line of defence behind Kristian Green, Joel Kettle, Liam Daly and Jordan Liburd. I will openly confess to having had doubts over Liburd but he is looking stronger with every game he plays at this level.
A repeat against Macclesfield Town would be lovely.
Starting XI: Vaughan; K. Green, Kettle, Daly, Liburd; Campbell (P. Green), Murombedzi, Carter, Carline; Westbrooke; Afolayan (Dunkley).
Unused: Cleary, Kelleher, Thomas.