FOOTBALL: THE CELEBRATIONS for Solihull Moors will not start until after Saturday’s final game of the season at Guiseley AFC insists manager Liam McDonald after the club secured their National League status.
Despite being tipped by many for relegation in their first ever season in the top flight of non-league football, Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Eastleigh ended any threat of relegation with one game to go.
But McDonald wants his Moors side to end the season with back-to-back wins against a Guiseley side who are still fighting to stay in the league.
“I really enjoyed last week’s win against Eastleigh,” said McDonald. “Perhaps the first time in a while I could relax and take on board the confidence with which we played.
“We were energetic, fast and showed our desire to continue to play at this level. We were particularly good in the final third and on that display looked like one of the top teams in the division.
“I thanked the lads for the turn around in our fortunes since the half time whistle at York. It has been tough for us all but I emphasised to the team that it hasn’t finished yet – our celebrations at staying up can wait until the season has finished and until then we have unfinished business at Guiseley.
“They will be fighting for their survival but I am still looking to finish further up the league table. The players will remember the last game of the season right through the summer break and I want it to be a happy memory.
“I also want to see us take three wins on the bounce, something we have not done this season, and another clean sheet would be a bonus.
“I believe our record at Nethermoor Park is just one win in four attempts but they were a few years ago and both I and most of the squad have yet to play there. So as far as I am concerned it is everything to play for and no, it will not be easy.”
Securing survival has given McDonald a chance to take stock on his short time at the Automated Technology Group Stadium after taking over the reigns from Marcus Bignot towards the end of last year.
“Looking back over my time at the Moors there have been two things that as a manager I had not experienced but feel I am better for overcoming them.
“First of all I was faced with rebuilding the team three months into the season. In my previous stints at Redditch and Hednesford I had had the luxury of doing that pre-season.
“We were a team fighting for survival and I needed 100 per cent loyalty from everyone in the squad – players who would run through a brick wall for me.
“Many of the new faces came from local midlands teams and were used to wining – this was a different environment and they needed to rise to the challenge quickly.”
McDonald has also learned a lot form the club’s recent slump, which saw Moors slip close to the drop zone following six consecutive defeats.
He added: “I was used to my teams bouncing back but it took a while for that to happen this time.
“I still believe the last kick defeat at Forest Green had something to do with that – the players were drained and their confidence took a knock. “Tranmere had to be the turning point. I questioned myself and sat down with the players where we had an honest discussion on what had gone wrong.
“They felt they had let the club down and knew they could do better. Together we turned things around and if that situation ever looks like happening again in the future, we are all the better for the experience.”