Moors Progress in FA Trophy
Automated Technology Group Stadium
19.12.2017 // 19:54
'Hey look, a two-tier stand' one fan pointed out to another.
'When I started supporting Tranmere Rovers we used to play against big clubs,' he continued.
I can only imagine his delight at 9:35 when his side had officially been knocked out of the FA Trophy by the National League's smallest club.
Playing a club like Tranmere Rovers is a big deal for Solihull Moors. They're a huge club as far as non-league is concerned. Perhaps the biggest club outside of the Football League. And we beat them. Most importantly, we deserved it.
Tranmere may have been poor but our boys were superb throughout. They worked hard, carried out the instructions from Yates to a T and never gave Tranmere much of a sniff throughout the 90 minutes.
Mark Yates made no changes from the side that started on Saturday afternoon meaning Kristian Green, Jamie Reckord and Shepherd Murombedzi all started, looking to secure a place in the starting XI when Boreham Wood come to town this weekend.
They, like the other 8 on the pitch, did their jobs brilliantly. We got in their faces from the off and Jamey Osborne and Oladapo Afolayan went close, striking wide of the near post.
Then came the moment that made the entrance fee worth it. Step forward Jamey Osborne.
On 9 minutes, the midfielder, on loan from Grimsby Town, controlled a loose ball and took it past his man. He took another touch which turned him towards goal then unleashed a sensational effort from fully 35 yards out. The ball dipped and Luke Pilling could only stand and watch the ball hit the top corner of his net. Sensational.
It was a well-deserved lead for Moors who dominated the first-half proceedings, hitting Tranmere on the counter-attack at every opportunity. Hylton found Reckord on the left-flank but Pilling cut out the cross.
Reckord was looking the part in his first full home outing and he almost capped it by somehow bettering Osborne's effort, controlling Pilling's weak clearance and sending it back from 40/45 yards. Unfortunately for the new boy, the ball landed just wide.
Moments before that effort, James Norwood volleyed straight at Max O'Leary from the edge of the area after Fiacre Kelleher's shanked clearance. Oliver Norburn then sent a free-kick wide of O'Leary's post before Mottley-Henry failed to trouble the on-loan keeper.
The visitors were failing to mount real pressure and with Hylton around, we were a constant danger. His pace was on show when he burnt Richie Sutton down the right-flank, his cutback falling for Murombedzi whose effort was blocked.
Hylton wouldn't have to wait too much longer to get on the scoresheet. A penalty was given when the referee spotted some pulling and pushing in the area, Kelleher seemingly the victim. Ex-Swindon Town forward Hylton made no mistake from the spot, dinking the ball down the centre as Pilling dived to his right. Beautiful.
The second half saw less goal-mouth action with Rovers failing to get real control of the game. Norwood fired wide while Ollie Banks' strike was deflected over. Hylton ought to have made it 2-0 when played in by a Tranmere defender but saw his shot saved by Pilling when through one-on-one.
Micky Mellon changed his midfield in the second half but they couldn't stop Hylton and Reckord teeing up Afolayan who curled just wide of the target. Afolayan then had another chance, running off the shoulder to reach Kwame Thomas' flick but again saw his effort fall the wrong side of the post.
Chances remained few and far between. Jay Harris cleared the stand with a 20-yard shot, Thomas couldn't connect cleanly on his right foot and Andy Cook failed to guide home a header.
The final flashpoint of the game came when Jermaine Hylton was sent off on 90 minutes. Hand on heart, I honestly thought it was an awful decision made on the reaction of Adam Buxton at the time. He went in for the ball, it appeared he won it and that Buxton had just been caught in the aftermath, looking wily for the free-kick.
I've since been shown a different angle and it's fair to say that while Hylton has most certainly gone for the ball, the speed and ferocity of the challenge mixed with his studs connecting with the shin of Buxton means it was a definite red. A harsh one in the respect that Hylton certainly didn't go in to hurt Buxton but an understandable red card for sure.
That was pretty much that. The Moors saw through the final few minutes and the fans that did brave the freezing temperatures were treated to a second consecutive victory at the ATG. A massive victory too.
Moving onto Saturday, the suspension for Jermaine Hylton will be a tough one to take given his display on Monday. He looks as fit and as sharp as he has done since joining. However, it gifts Asante, or maybe somebody else, a chance to stake a claim and such competition can only be a good thing moving forward.
As for the FA Trophy, it's Spennymoor Town or Gainsborough Trinity in round two.
Starting XI: O'Leary; K.Green, Daly, Kelleher, Reckord; Murombedzi, P.Green, Osborne (Carline); Afolayan (Martin), Hylton, Thomas.