Welcome To Solihull Moors!
Automated Technology Group Stadium
07.10.2017 // 15:00
Attendance: 2658 (339 Hartlepool fans)
Richard Money's first game in charge of Solihull Moors resulted in another fine performance going to waste thanks to Jonathan Franks' last minute winner.
A fantastic first half was undone with a minute of the restart as Rhys Oates tapped home from close range. Darren Carter's late penalty looked to have salvaged a point for the mighty Moors but the scores remained level for just four minutes.
This was otherwise a day of major positives and not just on the field. A record of attendance of over 2,600 supporters packed out the Automated Technology Group Stadium to make Non-League Day an overwhelming success.
The club used it as a great chance to celebrate the success of their youth teams with a half-time pitch invasion from a number of youngsters who were applauded by both home and away supporters in a lap of honour.
Given the upheaval over this past week, it was fantastic to see so many new faces amongst the crowd. I can say for certain we had one new fan, the young girl witnessing her first Solihull Moors football match who decided she liked Nathan Vaughan more than Scott Loach 'because he kicked it to our team'.
Back to the game and Money made four changes from Tuesday night's defeat, a game he watched live from the stands. Shepherd Murombedzi returned from suspension to play at right-back, Fiacre Kelleher started for the first time since the 1-0 defeat away at Aldershot Town while Tahvon Campbell and Wes McDonald also returned to the starting XI. Joel Kettle and Richard Brodie dropped to the bench with Joe Payne and Simeon Maye out of the squad altogether.
Despite most believing it would be 3-4-3, Money set the side up in a 4-4-2 system with Kristian Green switching to left-back, McDonald starting wide right and Campbell joining Oladapo Afolayan in attack.
It was Campbell who had the Moors straight on the front foot producing some fancy footwork before a last ditch tackle denied him an effort on goal. McDonald then raced in behind the left-back to latch onto Liam Daly's pass but couldn't direct his effort on target after chipping the keeper.
A game full of life but with few chances, Darren Carter tried next but his half volley from distance couldn't find the target. After Carl Magnay was booked for elbowing George Carline, Afolayan drove inside but his shot was deflected wide.
It took over half an hour for our North-East visitors to muster an effort on goal but Scott Harrison couldn't test Vaughan. Afolayan stung the palms of ex-England U21 coach Scott Loach and later found Carline racing into the area but the England C international couldn't direct his header past Loach.
Craig Harrison had seen enough of his side being dominated and replaced James Thorne and Lewis Hawkins with Jack Munns and Rhys Oates at half-time. Within a minute it paid dividends.
Wes McDonald was quite happy to let the ball run out of play before realising there wasn't enough pace to let it run. He turned into trouble, Murombedzi was beaten in the follow-up challenge and Munns was free to pick out an option in the centre. His cross deflected the wrong side of Daly and Oates was on hand for a tap-in.
For the next few minutes it was panic stations as possession was given up easily and the side were pulled from pillar to post. Thankfully the back four held strong with Devante Rodney firing the only effort of note over the bar.
Carter's deliberation in possession allowed Rodney another distant strike that Nathan Vaughan was equal to but we were slowly forcing our way back into the game.,
Courtney Richards struck wide from distance then found the head of Kelleher who couldn't turn the ball home before the hour. Richard Brodie and Jordan Liburd replaced Afolayan and McDonald as The Moors went more direct in their approach.
Despite the pressure exerted it wasn't until 74 minutes that we mustered a real effort, Carline latching onto Brodie's flick but unable to strike cleanly. Carline's quick thinking from a throw-in allowed Richards to motor into the area but he shot with the ball stood under his feet then Brodie's hold-up play enabled Carter another half volley but that hit the crowd.
Nobody in blue and yellow was giving up and eventually we got our reward. Jordan Liburd's hopeful scoop forward found Brodie and as he tried to control the ball on his chest, Louis Laing bundled him over in a needlessly desperate attempt to win the ball. Darren Carter stepped up and confidently side-footed home to the keeper's left.
It was immediately evident that Solihull Moors were happy with a point and nobody saw a reason as to why we would let this slip. That was until Carline committed a foul on the left-hand side that gave Hartlepool the chance to pump the ball into the area.
Three players went for the header and all missed it, the ball cannoned off Kelleher's knee and into the path of Green and Carline. The duo went for the same ball, both missed it and Jonathan Franks was on hand to lash the ball home from a tight angle.
Richard Money spoke after the game believing that his side did not deserve to lose the game but that he would like to add more experience to the ranks. Having watched the last couple of Solihull Moors home fixtures, it's an assessment made on the back of seeing so many late goals hit the back of our net through sheer naivety.
As far as starts go, Money will be reasonably happy and can look forward to improving a youthful group full of tenacity, raw energy and genuine quality.
Money has the perfect opportunity to get his thousands of new supporters right behind his new football club.