UNITED summoned up another terrific performance to claim all three points against a dogged Solihull Moors side. This was a performance full of heart, character, and running. United left it all out there on the pitch, and although the game lacked quality, it didn’t lack commitment.
It was left to Dan Sparkes to add the finishing touch inside the box to send the Yellow Army barmy in the 89th minute - it released a lot of pent up energy from the team. It was a slog to get to that point, but that made it even sweeter.
Player Manager Kevin Nicholson made one change to the side that earned a point at Wrexham on Saturday. Jamie Reid was given a start and Shaun Harrad dropped to the bench. United club captain Courtney Richards is nearing full-fitness but it remains to be seen whether he will be ready to face Chester on Saturday.
The last time United headed to Solihull,the match was called off due to a late deluge of rain waterlogging the Automated Technology Group Stadium. This time the rain stayed away until late in the game, but the surface was still a challenge to contend with.
Goalkeeper Brendan Moore had precious little to do in the whole 90 minutes. Due to Solihull’s quick strike force he was called upon to come off his line and mop the ball up, but actual saves were rare, if non-existent.
It wasn’t a pretty game, and chances were few to come by in the first half. A bit of sloppy play defending a corner allowed Solihull a sighter at goal. Luckily a weak clearance didn’t cost United because Carline fired way over the bar.
United’d defensive pair of McGinty and Anderson were looking dominant in the air but two overzealous tackles earned each a yellow card early in the game. Anderson’s in particular was slightly reckless given that United were well-stocked in defence.
The resulting free-kick was placed just wide of goal by Solihull’s Sterling-James.
United applied some pressure to Solihull’s box just before the break but that was that for the first half: not many chances and a pressurised second half instore.
United came out from the half-time break more assertive. This was evident in the 51st minute when a Jamie Reid flick-on set Ruairi Keating away, one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Keating’s shot was well smothered by Nathan Baxter. It was the best opportunity of the match, and the Yellow Army were hoping it wouldn’t come back to haunt them.
Solihull started to look more dangerous too. More balls were sent into United’s penalty box and with greater accuracy. A low ball was drilled in by Solihull in the 55th minute and squirted up and off a United defender and only just wide of goal. From the resulting corner Solihull got a head on it and sent it wide.
One baffling reoccurrence was Solihull’s insistence on passing the ball out from the back. United nearly stole the ball on more than one occasion. This time it was Moors captain Liam Daly that dallied too long and nearly gave United a sniff of a one-on-one with Baxter.
There were half-chances left for both teams. Jamie Reid went on a couple of good runs only to be denied by Baxter. Solihull were stretching United’s back line with their pace and direct running.
Dan Sparkes nodded in the winner from close-range in the 89th minute to take United out of the bottom four and score his sixth goal of the season.
Unfortunately, his night was brought to a premature end when Solihull’s Charles-Cook went in for a tackle that may not have been malicious, but it certainly was reckless. Charles-Cook was shown a red card and Sparkes is now a doubt for Saturday’s match at Plainmoor against Chester FC.
Thank you to the Yellow Army for their support on the night. We need more of it on Saturday!
You can buy your tickets for our National League encounter with Chester here.