3:00pm - SaturdaySat 15th MayMay 2021
Damson Park

Solihull Moors
2 - 1


Cards hoping to build on positive performance

Glen Harrington
9:32am, Fri 14th May 2021
Solihull Moors vs Woking
Vanarama National League
Saturday 15th May 2021

Woking’s miserable second-half of the season edges closer to its conclusion on Saturday as the Cards travel to Solihull Moors in their penultimate away match of the National League season.

The Cards turned in a commendable performance in mid-week, matching league leaders Sutton United for much of the game and might have stolen a point late on, after Joe Leslie’s first goal for the club had brought the score back to 3-2. But ultimately, it was too little too late and Alan Dowson’s side fell to a club record equalling ninth straight defeat. There are now just three more games for Dowse and co to negotiate, starting with Saturday’s rematch from the opening day of the season, when the Cards pulled off an unlikely 2-1 victory. No doubt the boss will be hoping for a repeat performance.

Solihull have had, by their recent standards, a disappointing season. Many would have had the Moors down as play-off contenders, if not title challengers, but the club have never truly recovered from their opening day loss at the Laithwaite Community Stadium. They currently sit in 14th place, with 51 points from 37 games, 11 adrift of the top seven. Manager James Shan was sacked in March after just over a year in charge, having won only 12 of his 32 games, and was replaced by former boss Mark Yates on a short-term deal until the end of the season. The club’s form under Yates has been distinctly mixed, with seven wins, one draw and six defeats, but they have won their last two against Altrincham (4-0) and Weymouth (2-1).

Woking – Team News

Ben Gerring made a welcome return against Sutton to bolster the Cards’ depleted defensive ranks. His return to the side freed up Nathan Collier to move into midfield alongside Charlie Cooper, standing in for the Cards’ latest injury-victim, Kane Ferdinand. Dowse only has a handful of options available to freshen up the team but might be tempted to give Leslie a second club start after his impressive performance from the bench against Sutton.

Solihull Moors – The Boss

Experienced manager Mark Yates returned for a second spell in charge in March 2021. The 51-year-old also remains manager of Stourbridge but was able to take the short-term role on offer at Solihull, with the Southern League season already having been curtailed. The former Kidderminster Harriers and Cheltenham Town midfielder, who has also coached both clubs, first arrived as Solihull boss in November 2017, guiding them to safety after arriving with the club bottom of the National League. He’s subsequently had spells with Macclesfield Town and a return to Kidderminster before joining Stourbridge.

One to Watch

Star summer signing Adam Rooney has not had the best of seasons, scoring just six goals since his move from Salford City, but the 33-year-old remains a huge goalscoring threat at this level. The former Republic of Ireland youth international has spent the bulk of his career in Scotland, scoring regularly for the likes of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Aberdeen, where he netted more than 140 goals, whilst he’s also scored goals in League One and the Championship. He joined Salford in 2018, firing them to promotion from the National League the following year, before joining the Moors last summer.

Last Time Out

Woking 2-1 Solihull Moors – Vanarama National League (3rd October 2020)

The Cards returned to National League action in style after more than six months out of action due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamie Ward’s penalty gave the visitors a first-half lead, but a hastily assembled Woking team full of loanees and last minute signings fought back, equalising through Max Kretzschmar before Kane Ferdinand scored what proved to be the winning goal on the hour mark.

Next Up

The Cards travel to promotion-chasing Stockport County next Saturday before finishing the season the following week at home to Wealdstone.

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Hudlin strike leaves Moors the Merrier

Adam Leary
12:00am, Sat 15th May 2021
Solihull Moors 2 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
Saturday 15th May 2021

A goal from substitute Kyle Hudlin condemned Woking to a club record equalling 10th straight defeat on an overcast May afternoon in the West Midlands. In what must be a rare example of Woking playing a league match deep into May on FA Cup final day, the Cards showed a spirited fightback in this behind closed doors fixture at Damson Park against a Solihull Moors side boasting an impressive home record.

Hudlin's strike came in the 83rd minute, breaking through a couple of despairing attempted challenges from Jack Cook to slot home a right-foot strike into the bottom right hand corner of stand-in keeper Mark Smith's net. The timing of the strike, just 4 minutes after the Cards' had equalised following Adam Rooney's early opener, was a real hammer blow to a side for whom confidence is understandably brittle and losing has become a habit.

Woking will be left to reflect on two pivotal moments, a missed first half penalty from Charlie Cooper, back in his native West Midlands, and the defensive slip that allowed Hudlin to net what proved to be the winner.

Woking had found a variety of ways to lose in the previous losing sequence; with defeats attributable to a range of factors including profligate finishing, lacklustre defending, injuries, suspensions and unavailable players, and, on occasion, downright bad luck. This latest result ended up proving something of a microcosm of how fortunes have fared for the Cards since the clocks went forward at the end of April.

Alan Dowson made two changes from the starting line up that went down to spirited defeat on Tuesday at league leaders Sutton; Mark Smith taking the place of Craig Ross in the visitors goal for his 4th appearance of the season, and Joe Leslie being rewarded with a start after his impressive goalscoring cameo at Gander Green Lane, with Paul Hodges dropping to the bench.

Smith was protected by a starting back four of Kyran Lofthouse, Ben Gerring (who captained the side in the absence of Josh Casey and Ross), Jack Cook and Leo Hamblin. Leslie started on the left-hand side of Cooper and Nathan Collier in the centre of midfield, with Malachi Napa providing forward thrust on the right. Young AFC Wimbledon loanee Zach Robinson linked up with Sam Ashford in attack.

Woking would have been desperate to start the game well and not be forced to chase the match, as has been too often the case in recent weeks. Heads understandably dropped, both on the field and in the dugout, when the hosts took the lead in the 5th minute. Fine work down the right-hand side from the impressive Alex Addai resulted in the sort of low cross that Adam Rooney has made a career out of getting on the end of; the ball hitting the back of the net via the legs of Mark Smith.

To their credit, Woking picked themselves up and grew into the match, the lively trio of Robinson, Leslie and Napa all seeking to combine and move the Cards upfield. This pressing further up the field paid off when Ashford intercepted a wayward pass from Williams, played a smart through ball to Robinson who burst into the area only to be the meat in a Solihull sandwich, bundled over in the box leading the referee Mr Dicicco to point to the spot.

For the third time in a week, Cooper stepped up from 12 yards and unlike previous successes against Chesterfield and Sutton shot tamely to Ryan Boot's left, the home keeper reading the direction well and making a smart, but all too comfortable save. Midway through the first half the Cards were left reflecting on whether this miss would prove costly.

Solihull spent the remainder of the half looking the more composed and accomplished side, but the visitors stuck gamely to their task and dealt well with the threat posed by the hosts, especially from set pieces, a factor of play which has been an achilles heel for Woking of late. Woking nerves were tested when Callum Maycock played in Justin Donawa who finished smartly past Smith, however the referees assistant finally intervened with a late flag for offside. There was a late scare in first half stoppage time as well when James Ball's freekick struck the top of the Woking crossbar.

Half-time: Solihull Moors 1 Woking 0

Woking emerged unchanged at half time, as did the hosts, and it has to be assumed that the message from Dowson would have been to stay in in the game, continue to do the basics well and seek to push for an equaliser.

The opening exchanges of the second period saw Woking play with some degree of attacking intent, the lively Robinson having an appeal for a penalty waved away after Hamblin's long ball was taken down superbly by Napa to feed in the striker. At the other end, Moors were kept at arm's length in the main by an improved defensive foundation marshalled by Gerring, although Woking were guilty of a series of needless fouls in their defensive third which put them under pressure.

Around the hour mark, Leslie showed good trickery on the left and appeared to be fouled in the box; the official determined that no penalty should be given to the astonishment of the Woking bench. After 62 minutes, Woking had a chance when a long goal kick bounced kindly to the ever-willing Ashford, who, at full stretch, managed to divert the shot towards goal. The home keeper was alert and off his line quickly and managed to make the save.

Woking were starting to mount some sustained pressure, and almost scored from a corner after 67 minutes when the ball broke to Gerring who could only volley into the crowd of players between him and the hosts goal. Moors then replaced their goalscorer Rooney with the new threat in the giant frame of Hudlin, as they sought to arrest the Woking charge. Dowson made a couple of changes of his own, Sam Dalby replacing Robinson and Paul Hodges seeking to influence the game in the place of Napa.

Hodges, looking to get on the ball on the half turn and run at the home defence, did so effectively after 76 minutes when he ghosted into the right hand side of the penalty box and sent a low cross agonisingly past the boot of Ashford, who threw himself towards the ball to no avail.

The other replacement, Dalby, also linked up well with Ashford, winning a corner from which the Cards deservedly drew level. An in-swinging corner from Cooper was bravely met by Collier, who diverted the ball past Boot to the delight of players and coaching staff. Collier, at 36 years old the elder statesman in this young Cards side and a loyal lieutenant for Dowson since he became one of the managers first signings three years ago, richly deserved his first goal for the club. The reaction from the other Cards players indicated just how popular the identity of the goalscorer was.

Collier opens his Woking account
Collier opens his Woking account
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Two minutes later the Cards thought they had taken the lead when Ashford brilliantly got on the end of a long pass from Cooper and smashed past Boot. On this occasion the assistant's flag was raised promptly.

With the Cards then on top, heartbreak was to follow when Hudlin punished Cook's slip with his goal, leaving Woking players visibly crestfallen. Rather than giving up, the visitors did press for a second equaliser. Cooper, determined to atone for the penalty miss, was hugely industrious and sought to drive the team forward and assume responsibility. The final chance came from a deep Cooper free kick that Gerring did brilliantly to keep alive, finding Leslie, who, rather wastefully, shot wide of Boot's near post rather than play the percentages by aiming across the goal to the far post.

The final whistle, following three minutes of stoppage time, was met with resignation by the Woking players, who had put a lot into this match and will be gutted to have emerged with nothing to show from a spirited, committed second half display, against a home side who are now unbeaten in eight at Damson Park. Two games remain - a difficult trip to Edgeley Park next up and then a long-awaited opportunity to play in front of their own fans at home to Wealdstone on the 29th May.

Woking: 31 Mark Smith, 2 Jack Cook, 4 Charlie Cooper, 5 Ben Gerring, 12 Nathan Collier, 16 Kyran Lofthouse, 19 Zach Robinson (30 Sam Dalby 72'), 20 Malachi Napa (32 Paul Hodges 75'), 24 Leo Hamblin, 25 Sam Ashford, 27 Joe Leslie

Unused subs: 13 Craig Ross, 14 John Freeman, 15 Jack Skinner

Goals: Collier 79'

Bookings: Cook

Solihull Moors 1 Ryan Boot, 2 Tyrone Williams, 3 Jordan Cranston, 4 Kyle Storer, 9 Adam Rooney (27 Kyle Hudlin 64'), 15 Callum Maycock, 17 Jordan Piggott, 18 James Ball, 26 Justin Donawa, 31 Alex Addai (Cameron Archer 55'), 31 Jordon Thompson

Unused subs: 7 Joe Sbarra, 24 Mitch Hancox, 29 Nathan Cameron

Goals: Rooney 5', Hudlin 83'

Bookings: Williams, Storer

Referee: Matthew Dicicco

Attendance: BCD

Man of the Match: Ben Gerring - The stand in captain has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks but today seemed more like his old self, displaying a commitment and leadership that stood out and contributed to a much improved set piece defensive display.
Solihull Moors LINEUP
1Ryan Boot
2Tyrone Williams
3Jordan Cranston
17Jordan Piggott
31Jordon Thompson
4Kyle Storer
18James Ball
15Callum Maycock
26Justin Donawa
30Alex Addai ('55)
9Adam Rooney ('64)
24Mitch Hancox
29Nathan Cameron
7Joe Sbarra
25Cameron Archer ('55)
27Kyle Hudlin ('64)
31Mark Smith
16Kyran Lofthouse
24Leo Hamblin
5Ben Gerring
2Jack Cook
12Nathan Collier
4Charlie Cooper
27Joe Leslie
20Malachi Napa ('75)
25Sam Ashford
19Zach Robinson ('72)
13Craig Ross
14John Freeman
15Jack Skinner
32Paul Hodges ('75)
30Sam Dalby ('72)

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