Moors' Wembley Hopes Ended At First Round
Automated Technology Group Stadium
05.11.2017 // 14:00
Solihull Moors were knocked out of the FA Cup after a 2-0 defeat at home to Wycombe Wanderers on Sunday.
It was a tale of two halves for the managerless Moors, conceding both goals in the opening half hour before playing without fear during a much more exciting second period.
Playing for the first time since Richard Money's shock resignation on Tuesday, Gary Whild made two enforced changes to the side that were beaten 4-0 by AFC Fylde.
Charlie Bannister returned in goal while Sean St.Ledger made a first Solihull Moors start after arriving on Monday, the duo replacing the cup-tied pair of Nick Townsend and James Bowen. St.Ledger may have questioned the timing of his return to the game with Adebayo Akinfenwa his first direct opponent.
In a bitty opening period, the only chance of note came when Jermaine Hylton's silky feet took him past Dominic Gape but his low shot-cum-cross was cut out by Scott Brown.
The first goal arrived on 18 minutes and was a bit of a fluke in all fairness. Scott Brown's kick was huge and with St.Ledger pinned by the self-styled Beast, the ball dropped onto the foot of Craig Mackail-Smith who inadvertently kicked it against the shins of Nick Freeman and into the net.
The failure to defend the long ball summed up much of the first-half performance for the Moors with Akinfenwa causing plenty of problems and nobody really getting close enough to Wycombe in possession. It was only thanks to Charlie Bannister's superb save from Akinfenwa's volley that the second didn't come earlier.
That second did arrive shortly after Mackail-Smith was given the space to control a ball on his chest and try a backwards volley that was deflected wide. The resulting corner was headed off the bar by Anthony Stewart into the path of Akinfenwa who followed suit. While Moors bodies stood watching the ball, Mackail-Smith was on his toes and on hand to prod home from close range.
The Moors were lucky to escape without conceding another before half-time. Mackail-Smith, a nuisance throughout, curled over the bar before Stewart forced Bannister into another fine stop. Mackail-Smith's good footwork resulted in another deflected shot from distance before he was found by captain Matt Bloomfield only for Bannister again to deny him. When an effort did come Moors' way, Asante fired way over the bar.
Oladapo Afolayan said post-match that Whild told the players they had nothing to lose in the second half and they certainly played a side ready to fight fire with fire, Afolayan himself slicing the first effort wide within a minute of the whistle.
Moments later, a counter-attack led by Jermaine Hylton ended with Kristian Green crossing for Asante who couldn't manoeuvre past his marker to head home.
Despite the brighter performance, actually getting chances on goal proved to be difficult with Wycombe wily in defence and remaining full of energy, some of their elder statesmen belying their age.
Mackail-Smith tried his luck with a near post flick before Oladapo Afolayan's shot was deflected by Dan Scarr and impressively tipped over by Scott Brown after good work from Jermaine Hylton. Marcus Bean curled wide with 14 left to play, much to the frustration of Wycombe supporters who claimed they be 'on the pitch' if he netted.
Asante's brilliant work down the right wasn't rewarded when Afolayan and others tried their luck from close range, the visitors somehow escaping without conceding, Brown denying Hylton from point blank range.
Afolayan had another effort a couple of minutes but didn't connect cleanly before Akinfenwa finally found himself through on goal only to put the ball wide. The Moors' best chance came with seconds left to play as Asante fed Hylton who showed good pace but finished weakly.
The final whistle spelled the end of Solihull Moors' short FA Cup run and while defeat was hard to take, the second half once again provided fans with a vibrancy that has often been missing from our side at times this season.
A fantastic break from league action. It's surprise package Sutton United next.