16.4.2016

Vanarama National League North

Solihull Moors 

Byfield (90)

Hednesford Town

Thomas (17), Glover (50)

(0) 1

(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

972

Adam Thomas

L L D D L D L W L W

Bradford (Park Avenue) (H) 23.4.16

Another insane week on and off the pitch at Keys Park sees the managerless Pitmen turn the form book on its head with victory at league champions Solihull Moors this afternoon, although results elsewhere condemn the visitors to relegation with two games of the Vanarama National League North season remaining

Tuesday night's defeat to Worcester City left the Pitmen with a mountain to climb in their last three games and required snookers from other clubs around them in the league table in their bid to stay up. Manager Frank Sinclair had left the club for the second time in a month by mutual consent after their midweek defeat, with former Hednesford striker Kyle Patterson stepping in as the club's caretaker manager for the final three games of a woeful campaign. Patterson was without the services of injured duo Dan Crane and Jack Truelove, bringing Lloyd Ransome and Jack Fitzwater into the side to replace the duo. The final of three changes to the side that had started the Worcester game saw veteran Phil Trainer replaced by Francino Francis

Solihull had finally clinched the title and promotion to the National League courtesy of a 3-0 win at AFC Telford United last Saturday, with a near-1,000 gate assembling at Damson Park to welcome their heroes back home; there was a party-like atmosphere inside the ground that not even the showery weather could dampen. On the pitch, manager Marcus Bignot made five changes to the side that had started at the New Bucks Head as Jordan Gough, Gavin Cowan, James Armson, Stefan Moore and Adam Walker all came back into the team ahead of Connor Franklin, Paul Bignot, Craig Dean, Jack Byrne and Darryl Knights

The Hednesford players and management showed their respect for Solihull's title win as they formed a guard of honour to welcome the hosts onto the pitch ahead of kick-off

Looking to play party poopers in the carnival atmosphere, the Pitmen started well and skipper Ben Bailey went close to opening the scoring in the third minute as a Sean Williams corner was headed away by Liam Daly but only as far as Bailey, whose first-time shot from twelve yards out was saved by Danny Lewis inside his six-yard box

More excellent deliveries from Williams followed as the visitors continued to press the Moors defence early on, with a third corner in a row from the midfielder headed over the crossbar by Kennedy Digie in the seventh minute as he stretched to reach the ball at the far post

Moors skipper Theo Streete almost inadvertently handed the Pitmen the lead in the ninth minute as Adam Thomas did well down the right and floated in a cross to the near post that Streete - under pressure from Danny Glover - headed inches wide of his own goal with Lewis beaten

Another Williams corner kick in the thirteenth minute saw the midfielder's cross flicked on by Digie at the near post and towards goal, with Gough hacking the ball away from goal at the far post before Francis could get a toe to the bouncing ball from close-range

Seemingly playing with more freedom following the departure of the tactically-suspect Sinclair, the Pitmen continued to press, with Stephane Ngamvoulou holding off the challenge of Cowan in the sixteenth minute as he took Thomas's pass into space before striking a firm shot at goal from twenty yards out that Lewis saved down to his right

Thomas had started brightly for the Pitmen, giving Gough a tough time of it down the right flank with his pace and trickery; the winger opened the scoring a minute later to silence the Damson Park crowd after making a thrusting run into the Solihull penalty area from the right and drilled in a shot that was deflected away by the boot of Streete; the ball bounced straight back to Thomas as he followed the ball in, firing his rebound beyond the reach of Lewis and into the corner of the net from ten yards out

Ransome had been underutilised for the first quarter of the game at the other end but was called upon to make his first stop of the afternoon on twenty minutes as striker Akwasi Asante broke clear of the static Hednesford defence to latch onto Armson's pass, taking the ball around the dive of the goalkeeper but showing a little too much of it to Ransome which allowed him to pounce on the ball at the second attempt

Armson lifted a promising chance over the crossbar for the Moors on twenty-four minutes as neat interplay involving Gough, Cowan and Moore laid the ball off the midfielder, who leaned back and fired high over Ransome's crossbar from eighteen yards out

The Pitmen continued to press, however, and nearly doubled their advantage a minute later as the hosts once again struggled to clear their lines from a Thomas cross, with Daly's header falling into the path of Fitzwater, who sent over a low cross to the far post where Jonathan Royle slid into to turn the ball narrowly wide and into the side-netting

Good approach play down the left from Gough on twenty-eight minutes sent Walker away into space behind Digie, with the former Coventry City youngster playing Armson in on goal with a neat pass into the penalty area. Armson took a touch before shooting at goal but was denied by a fine save from Ransome down to his left

Lewis made a superb save to deny Glover on the half-hour mark after the striker had played a one-two with Peers to work the ball into the penalty area, only for the Moors stopper to turn Glover's low shot away from goal from twelve yards out

Ten minutes before half-time, Ransome snuffed out a chance for Asante as the Dutch striker was played into the penalty area by Cowan's pass; his low driven shot from an angle was diverted away from the target by the Hednesford stopper before Digie completed the clearance ahead of the Pitmen's nemesis Moore

Poor decision making from Asante on forty minutes saw the striker take the ball past Bailey and into the penalty area but chose to shoot from an angle rather than play it into the path of striker partner more, who was in space just outside the six-yard box. Ransome did enough to jockey Asante wide and managed to smother his shot away from goal

An inswinging Armson corner caused problems for the Pitmen in their own penalty area on forty-three minutes, with Daly's header looping up towards goal and requiring Ransome to claim the ball on his line as he climbed above Ngamvoulou to reach the ball

In the final minute of the half, Fitzwater and Royle combined down the left for Royle to swing a cross into the path of Glover, whose downward header skipped just wide of Lewis's left-hand post from ten yards out

The Pitmen had played with real purpose and spirit in the first period, something lacking in spades since the New Year and one of the main reasons why they were likely to be going down at the end of the ga,e, regardless of the result. Peers, Glover and Thomas had been a constant thorn in the side of a Moors defence that had only conceded forty-two goals all season long but had looked disorganised and leaky at times. Bignot made a double change to his under-performing side at half-time as his brother Paul and Leslie came on in place of Daly and Andy Brown

Indeed, the Pitmen doubled their advantage with their first move into the Moors half at the start of the second half as Glover struck his first goal since returning to the club on fifty minutes; Williams picked the ball up from Thomas and sent over a superb out-swinging cross from the corner of the penalty area that Lewis could get nowhere near, allowing Glover to slide in at the far post and bundle the ball home from close-range

Another good save from Ransome three minutes later denied the champions an immediate reply as Moore wriggled his way past Digie and into the penalty area, but saw his low driven shot pushed away by the Pitmen stopper

Armson was proving a tricky customer for the Pitmen, delivering a fine free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area on fifty-six minutes after Gough had been brought down on the left by Royle; the ball bounced in front of Ransome, who spilt the ball initially but was fortunate that no-one in blue and yellow was switched on enough to react to the rebound and Bailey cleared the danger

Leslie was off-target for the hosts on the hour mark, horribly dragging his shot from twenty yards out well wide of Ransome's right-hand post after picking up a flick-on from Cowan from Lewis's long goal kick forwards

Four minutes later, Royle's crunching tackle on Cowan saw the Wrexham loanee come away with the ball in the centre circle and drive into the Solihull half, playing Peers through on goal with a threaded pass in between Bignot and Street. Peers took a touch and looked to slot the ball past Lewis, but was denied by a late offside flag against him in the build-up and the Moors were awarded a free-kick

Ngamvoulou had struggled to get involved in the game in the second period, so it was perhaps little surprise that the Frenchman was the first player of the afternoon taken off by the visitors on sixty-eight minutes as Paul Ennis replaced him at the top of the midfield four. At the same time, veteran former Walsall and Sunderland striker Darren Byfield was brought on by the Moors in place of the disappointing Asante

Another good save from Lewis denied man of the match Thomas a third Hednesford goal on seventy-one minutes as the winger's darting run into the penalty area saw him drive a shot across goal from fifteen yards out, prompting Lewis to turn the ball away with a smart save down to his right

Three minutes later, the masked Glover was again out of luck as a Williams corner kick was flicked on at the near post by Digie and into the path of the striker, who was lurking at the far post but headed the wrong side of the post when it looked easier to put the ball in the net

Streete was denied a chance to put the ball in the net from close-range on seventy-eight minutes as a perceived foul on Thomas by the Moors captain in the build-up to a Gough free-kick pulled play up before the former Derby County man could turn the ball home

Ten minutes from time, Leslie went within a matter of inches of reducing arrears as he picked up a pass from Armson before he curled a shot beyond the reach of Ransome but agonisingly wide of the post

Thomas's game was brought to a halt a minute later as he was afforded a warm ovation from the away supporters for a job well done before he was replaced by Modou Cham

Solihull continued to press in the latter stages of the game, with Moore's speculative shot over the head of Ransome from twenty-five yards out drifting into the large Moors support behind the goal as the experienced striker got his angles all wrong

With three minutes remaining, Armson's quickly taken free-kick sent Gough away down the left, with the full-back's deep cross headed over the crossbar by Byfield at the far post, under pressure from Bailey and off-balance

The Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon before Ransome took this goal-kick as Trainer came on in place of Glover to add another body to the base of the midfield for the final minutes of the game

In the final minute of the game, Byfield pulled another good chance wide of Ransome's left-hand post after good play from Leslie had slotted the ball through to the experienced striker in the penalty area

The Moors did get their consolation goal three minutes into added time, however, as Gough's cross caused panic in the Hednesford ranks, with the ball bouncing around inside the penalty area before Byfield pounced on it and turned the ball past Ransome from twelve yards out

An impressive three points for the Pitmen was tempered by news coming in of points for Brackley Town and Lowestoft Town, which relegated Hednesford as a result. A shame, considering that Patterson's side had just completed arguably their best result of the whole season to beat the champions on their own patch. The Pitmen will play their final home game of the season next Saturday when they play host to mid-table Bradford (Park Avenue) before finishing the season with a trip down the A5 to face local rivals Nuneaton Town at Liberty Way

Solihull Moors: Lewis, English, Gough, Daly (Bignot 45), Streete ©, Cowan, Asante (Byfield 68), Armson, Brown, Walker (Leslie 45), Moore

Subs Unused: Franklin, Acton

Hednesford Town: Ransome, Thomas (Cham 81), Fitzwater, Bailey ©, Francis, Digie, Williams, Royle, Glover (Trainer 87), Ngamvoulou (Ennis 68), Peers       Subs Unused: Crane, Robinson