Solihull Moors 0-3 Tranmere Rovers
Vanarama National League
Match report by Andy Walker
This is a fixture that will be etched into the history of Solihull Moors – but not because of the final result.
Just under 2,000 people filtered into The Automated Technology Group Stadium to witness promotion hopefuls Tranmere propel themselves into the Vanarama National League play-off zone with a 3-0 victory.
It was comfortably a record attendance at The Moors’ Damson Parkway home and further evidence of the lofty heights that the club now find themselves competing at.
Solihull certainly didn’t disgrace themselves against a side who formally played in the second tier of English football and once reached the final of the League Cup.
The scoreline may have been harsh and the hosts may feel a little aggrieved certain decisions didn’t go their way but nobody could argue that Rovers didn’t deserve this win, courtesy of a Jake Kirby double and a late strike from substitute James Norwood.
Danny Lewis, in The Moors’ goal, had already been well tested twice by Louis Maynard and Lee Vaughan when Kirby gave Tranmere the lead in controversial circumstances in the 25th minute.
With the linesman’s flag raised on the right touchline, The Moors backline were distracted as Kirby waltzed through to round Lewis and slot home. Despite the protests from the yellow and blues, the goal stood.
Reflecting on the confusion, Marcus Bignot said: “It was poor play by everyone. The linesman’s made a mistake, he has flagged and everybody has stopped but I didn’t hear a whistle. You don’t stop unless there’s a whistle.
“The fourth official was really good; he informed me it was a goal kick and you can’t be offside from a goal kick.”
Kirby was proving to be a particular thorn in the side of The Moors as Tranmere continued to largely dominate the first-half. Rovers striker Andy Cook raced on to a flick on down the right in first-half injury time and fizzed a drive across the face of Lewis’ goal.
In front of a record crowd, The Moors came storming out of the blocks in the second-half and, at the very least, felt they deserved a penalty in the 63rd minute. Ryan Beswick’s corner from the right found the head of Akwasi Asante at the far post only for his goalbound effort to be blocked on the line with strong shouts of handball.
However, Tranmere were still looking dangerous when they ventured forward and Kirby had a goal disallowed in the 66th minute.
Rovers introduced Norwood for Louis Almond and the sub was an instant livewire – forcing Lewis into a good block in the 70th minute.
At the other end six minutes later, Darryl Knights blasted a half-volley inches wide after Shepherd Muromebedzi’s right-sided cross was cleared only as far as the Solihull sub.
Tranmere eventually doubled their lead in the 82nd minute. Maynard jinked his way into the area down the right, had a low shot parried by Lewis but Kirby was alert to the rebound to bag his second.
After Darren Stephenson and Norwood had combined to put Lewis to the test moments earlier, the pair linked up again deep into stoppage time to wrap up this Tranmere victory. As Moors pressed, Stephenson’s crossed from the right to set up Norwood from six yards.
MOORS: Lewis; Fagbola, Daly, Koue Niate (Akwasi, HT); Murombedzi, Osborne, Byrne, Beswick, Franklin (Gough, 83); Brown, Sterling-James (Knights 63). SUbs not used: Acton (gk), White.
Cucina Kitchens Supporters Man of the Match: Connor Franklin
Photos Courtesy of Andy Gregory