These five matches will define Solihull Moors’ season - The Solihull Observer

These five matches will define Solihull Moors’ season

Solihull Editorial 16th Dec, 2022   0

Last season’s third place finish earned Solihull Moors a bye into the National League playoff semi-finals against Chesterfield, where they went behind early but comfortably dispatched the Spireites in the end.

A first-ever season in the Football League was just one game away. However, Jordan Luke Maguire-Drew’s extra-time winner stopped the Solihull promotion train firmly in its tracks and Grimsby Town went up instead.

With around half of this season complete, The Moors sit 21 points behind league leaders Notts County (who football bettings sites rate as joint favourites for the title with Wrexham) but are nevertheless in with a very real shout of securing a second straight playoff spot and a third in the last five years.

There’s plenty of football to be played before the playoffs get underway at the start of May and, while there’s still more than 60 points up for grabs, a few key matches stand out in the fixture list as potential season-defining clashes for Solihull.

The upcoming festive double-header against Wrexham, for example, will be a good litmus test for the rest of The Moors’ season. The Red Dragons boast the league’s meanest defence so far this season, shipping just 21 goals.

More ominous is the fact that Wrexham have a 100% record in home games so far this campaign – ten games, ten wins and an average of 2.4 goals scored per game. Anyone who took advantage of a top betting offer and backed Wrexham every home game so far will be sitting pretty right now.

No other National League team has been as impressive on their home patch and it would be a real statement of intent were Solihull to be the first team to blot Wrexham’s copybook at The Racecourse this season when they travel to North Wales on Boxing day.

Wrexham – undoubtedly the neutrals’ favourite non-league team since their takeover by Hollywood royalty Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney) have been slightly less potent away from home, so the return fixture a week later presents a good opportunity for The Moors to pick up points.

Anything more than three points across those two games will be seen as a successful return for Neal Ardley’s men, while anything less than three points in their following home match – against Scunthorpe United – will be seen as an abject failure.

Scunthorpe have shown no signs of recovering from their decade-long tailspin (they played in the Championship as recently as 2011). A 7-0 pasting at Bristol Rovers underlined their lack of quality at the end of last season, and there’s been scant improvement so far this time round.

Perhaps Solihull’s sternest test in the second half of the season comes just three days after the Scunthorpe game, when Notts County visit Damson Park. While Wrexham are imperious at home, County are the league’s best team on the road.

They’ve scored 15 more goals and won three more games than any other team away from home at the season’s halfway point. A second half goal from Adam Chicksen was all that separated the sides at Meadow Lane in August but, in truth, it was a game County could and should have won by three or four.

Once that tricky January period is out of the way, hopefully with a few points in the bag, Moors fans will be looking ahead to the National League run-in. The fixtures gods have not exactly been kind to Solihull, with their last two games against potential play-off opponents in Eastleigh and Woking.

The Woking game in particular – the last match of the regular season – looks likely to be a dress rehearsal for a postseason clash, with The Cards currently sitting in fourth position and, like Solihull, chasing their maiden promotion to the Football League.

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