Solihull Moors 0 – 2 Chorley
Vanarama National North
IT wasn’t the way Solihull Moors will have wanted to end their home campaign, but it wasn’t the 90 minutes which mattered to Moors, more the post-match excitement when a dream – which seemed a fantasy when the club was born nine years ago – was rewarded with the presentation of the Vanarama National North trophy, writes Colin Stoner.
Marcus Bignot’s mantra of dream, believe, achieve came to fruition; nine months of endeavour and commitment on and off the pitch was acknowledged; and not even defeat to Chorley was going to spoil the day for the crowd of 951.
It was the first time this season Moors had suffered back-to-back losses and though they never reached the heights of recent displays they seemed comfortable until two goals in the final 14 minutes from Darren Stephenson and Dale Whitham completed Chorley’s victory.
Moors had enough of the opportunities to have had the game securely in their grasp by half-time, but their wayward finishing, a splendid save and the woodwork meant they could not find the net.
Michael Nottingham and Akwasi Asante were off target from promising positions early on before Chorley keeper Sam Ashton bravely blocked Andy Brown’s close-range effort when Asante’s flick sent him haring on goal.
Moments before the break, Nottingham hit the bar at the far post after meeting a Jack Byrne cross but that was as close as the Moors got.
Ryan Beswick lashed a shot over the stand before Nottingham headed straight at Ashton as Moos kept up the momentum in the second period.
But having withstood the pressure, Chorley finally began to threaten. Moors keeper Danny Lewis flew through the air to tip over Jake Cottrell’s rasping drive from a corner move just past the hour before captain Andy Teague rifled a loose ball over.
But Chorley sensed they had the momentum and on 76 minutes they went ahead. Moors squandered possession from their own throw-in on the halfway line and Whitham sent livewire striker Stephenson scooting past defender Gaz Dean before coolly slotting home past the advancing Lewis.
The duo combined again on 85 minutes for the visitors’ second. Stephenson made inroads down the right, then patiently waited to roll the ball into the feet of Whitham and the midfielder’s shot from the edge of the area flew into the net off the inside of the post to ensure the points would be heading back up the M6.
It has been on the road that Moors have created an unbreakable platform for their championship success – only one defeat on their travels all season – and they still have one big day out to enjoy with Saturday’s trip to FC United of Manchester. Four club coaches full of fans will be heading to Manchester to round off what has undoubtedly been a season to remember.
Then they end the campaign closer to home with a trip to St Andrew’s for the Birmingham Senior Cup final on Thursday, May 5 against Blues.