FOOTBALL: HOPES of climbing out of the Vanarama National League relegation zone were dealt a blow after Solihull Moors lost 1-0 to Chester.
Mark Yates’ men were undone only by Ross Hannah’s late header as former Moors boss Marcus Bignot got one over his old club in a mid-season ‘six-pointer’.
Moors’ clash was one of few games to survive the weekend’s wintry weather as snow swept across large parts of the country while low temperatures froze many pitches.
Knowing a win would help Moors leapfrog their northern rivals, Yates’ men made the better start when a dangerous cross from Afolayan allowed Jamey Osborne to chance his strike from 25yards out, but his effort was wide of the mark.
Chester had a chance of their own on 12 minutes when Halls got on the end of a corner, but he headed straight into the arms of O’Leary.
Moors were stuck when dealing with Chester’s debut keeper Hornby as Afolayan and Osborne saw chances go begging while at the other end Wes Atkinson’s shot went high and wide in a quiet opening half which Moors enjoyed the better of.
The home side appeared revitalised during the restart, and Dawson could’ve handed Chester the lead only to see his shot go wide.
Udoh then fed his pass through to Akintunde, but Green was well placed to block the shot.
Moors responded on 58 minutes when Osborne fed an inviting ball to Afolayan, but the resulting shot was dragged wide.
City were now in the ascendancy.
A corner on 77 minutes cleared Moors’ defence and – with nobody on the far post – substitute Hannah converted a simple nod in to put the hosts in front.
George Carline almost pulled a goal back when his effort was inches from an Osborne deflection.
But hopes of Moors bagging a late goal were ended when Darren Carter was sent off for a second bookable offence when Dawson was hacked to the ground.
With four minutes of added time to come Moors tried in vain to salvage something from a game they badly needed to win.
Osborne had the last meaningful slice of the action as he cut inside from the right and unleashed the best shot of the match, which fizzed over Hornby’s bar.
A disappointed Mark Yates said: “Sometimes games are decided on a set piece and today we were done by one.
“We were the better team in the first half – we moved the ball around but didn’t create enough chances.
“We didn’t quite seem to get going in the second and didn’t find our stride or the intensity.
“We must get into the habit of shooting on sight – we are not pulling the trigger enough.
“We should have had a look at their new keeper but failed to do so.”
The result sees Chester pull away from the relegation zone but with Torquay and Guiseley also losing there is no change in the bottom three.
Moors are now six points from safety and face Tranmere Rovers at home in the FA Buildbase Trophy on Saturday. Kick off is at 3pm.
Moors: O’Leary, Bowen (Reckord), Carter ©, Atkinson, Hylton, Afolayan (Asante), Green (P) (Carline), Daly, Kelleher, Osborne, Thomas.
Photos: Tom King.