Woking v Solihull Moors
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 4 February 2017
After the disappointment of Tuesday’s defeat by Tranmere Rovers, Garry Hill’s side will be very keen to make home advantage pay on Saturday against National League newcomers, Solihull Moors. But the Moors are likely to prove difficult opponents, having enjoyed some excellent results in recent weeks. Nevertheless, this is the sort of game Woking have to win if they are to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Following the fine wins away at Torquay United and Eastleigh there was reason to hope that the Cards might just pull off another surprise by beating fancied Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday evening. It certainly looked perfectly possible in the first half as Garry Hill’s side put the visitors under considerable pressure. Unfortunately, the opening goal eluded Woking and it proved a different story in the second half as Tranmere’s clinical finishing gained them a flattering 3-0 win.
Garry Hill nevertheless took encouragement from a display which largely continued the improvement seen since what he termed the ‘disaster’ on Boxing Day and he has no doubt been impressing on his squad that their first half performance on Tuesday showed that they have the ability to live with the best teams in this league – but they do need to take their chances when they are on top.
Dennon Lewis will be available on Saturday for selection, having served his one-match suspension, but it would be no surprise to see Jake Caprice retain the right-wing back slot after his barnstorming display on Tuesday. Garry also has the option of bringing in Chris Arthur on the opposite flank, allowing Fabio Saraiva to return to midfield.
The Moors are the result of a merger in 2007 between Solihull Borough and Moor Green. The club plays at Damson Parkway, which is about a mile north of Solihull town centre.
The Moors came up to the National League as champions of the Conference North last season. Their then manager Marcus Bignot retained a substantial number of his squad from that campaign. The best known was perhaps Andy Brown, an experienced striker who netted 100 goals for AFC Telford and Nuneaton Town before his move to the Moors last summer. Additions included Harry White, a young striker from Barnsley who had loan spells at Kidderminster Harriers and Boreham Wood last season; Jamey Osborne, a highly-rated midfielder from Redditch United; Nathan Vaughan, an experienced keeper from Worcester City; Omari Sterling-James, a goalscoring wide midfielder with recent experience at Cheltenham Town; and Shepherd Murombedzi, a midfielder who had appeared most recently for Torquay United and Hayes and Yeading.
Marcus Bignot moved on to join the management team at Grimsby Town and was replaced in November by Liam McDonald, a young manager who had made a strong impression in his previous roles at Redditch United and Hednesford Town. McDonald was quick to use those connections to bring in four players who were with him at Hednesford: defender Calum Flanagan and midfielders Simeon Maye, Ashley Sammons and George Carline. Other arrivals were midfielder Nortei Norty, whose loan from Wrexham has since been converted into a permanent signing; experienced striker Luke Rodgers; Kristian Green, a defender from Stourbridge; 18-year-old keeper Nathan Baxter from Chelsea, who was a member of the Blues’ FA Youth Cup-winning side last season; central defender Joel Kettle from Rushall Olympic; and Pearson Mwanyongo, a prolific scorer with Gresley United.
There have been a number of departures, including the loss of coveted striker Akwasi Asante and midfielder Jamey Osborne to Bignot at Grimsby Town.
McDonald, who likes to play attacking football, seems to have made a very positive start with the Moors. Notable results have included a holiday double over in-form Chester and a 4-4 draw away at Dagenham and Redbridge in which the Moors twice squandered a two-goal lead. The Moors now sit in 15th position with 37 points from 30 games, four places and seven points ahead of the Cards. In their last away game they drew 0-0 at Boreham Wood and, on Tuesday night, they lost 1-0 at home to Lincoln City.
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LAST TIME OUT
Solihull Moors 2 Woking 2
9 August 2016
If the Cards do end up in the bottom four at the end of the season, this is one of the games – nearly all against sides in the bottom half of the table – which Garry Hill will particularly rue as a missed opportunity. Their first away fixture of the campaign saw the Cards two goals ahead with only twenty minutes remaining but they ended up merely sharing the points and, in the process, perhaps establishing a pattern of poor results away from home.
After a decisive opening day defeat at home to Lincoln City, the Cards were anxious to get off the mark in this game. A slow start didn’t augur well but the Cards survived and gradually grew into the game, taking the lead when Nathan Ralph headed home a Dennon Lewis cross.
The Cards exended their lead shortly after half-time when keeper Lewis seemed to misjudge Zak Ansah’s shot-cum-cross. The Moors piled on the pressure thereafter, with Woking unable to protect their lead as the home side grabbed two late goals.
Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu (Charlie Carter 79), Ben Gordon, Dennon Lewis (Fabio Saraiva 70), Keiran Murtagh, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph, Zak Ansah (Charlie Penny 69), Gozie Ugwu
Unused substitutes: Brandon Hall, Chike Kandi
Scorer: Nathan Ralph 31, Zak Ansah 49
Solihull Moors: Danny Lewis, Jordan Fagbola, Liam Daly, Jordan Gough, Connor Franklin, Shepherd Murombedzi, Jamey Osborne, Ryan Beswick (Darryl Knights 60), Omari Sterling-James, Andy Brown (Harry White 60), Stefan Moore (Akwasi Asante 60)
Unused substitutes: Nathan Vaughan, Bobby Moseley
Scorers: Harry White 73, Jordan Fagbola 80
The Cards are away at league leaders and FA Cup conquerors, Lincoln City, on Saturday 11 February. Their next home game is a crucial ‘six pointer’ against Southport on Saturday 18 February.
Come on, you Cards!