FOOTBALL: SOLIHULL Moors did not reach the required performance levels set in recent weeks according to manager Liam McDonald after a controversial early penalty consigned his team to a 1-0 defeat at home to Wrexham.
Saturday’s National League encounter was decided in the fifth minute of play when the visitors were awarded a penalty for an apparent handball in the box and Anthony Barry fired home what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Despite going down to ten men for the final 23 minutes after Jack Byrne was given his marching orders, Moors battled gamely but could not force an equaliser as they fell to an eighth home defeat of the season.
“Performance wise, we struggled, there was no energy and we lacked a lot,” said McDonald. “It was disappointing because we have worked so hard over the last month. Our work rate has always been good but Saturday was maybe a step too far for us where we didn’t play very well.
“I’ve said to the lads I felt we let ourselves down with the manner of how we lost – we did not put up much of a fight until we went down to ten men.
“It’s an unusual performance from us but we will bounce back.”
On a blustery afternoon at the Automated Technology Group Stadium, a spot kick was awarded by referee Steven Rushton in the fifth minute when an innocuous cross from the Wrexham left struck Kristian Green and Barry beat Baxter by sending the Moors keeper the wrong way.
The only other effort of note in the first half-hour came when Perry Barr born Izale McLeod was impeded 20 yards out and picked himself up to fire the free kick against the crossbar.
It proved a wake up call for Moors as they ended the half strongly and they felt they had a shout for a penalty themselves on 42 minutes when skipper Liam Daly appeared to have his shirt pulled as he tried to get on the end of a Nortei Nortey free kick at the far post but the referee turned down the protests.
The home side started the second half in the same vein but could not create an opening until the 56th minute when Green and Regan Charles-Cook combined to put Harry White through but his well struck effort was palmed away by visiting keeper Chris Dunn.
Jack Byrne then came closest to levelling the scores when Wrexham failed to clear a corner and his shot across the goal from the right of the penalty box was scrambled off the line.
McDonald threw caution to the wind with a triple substitution just after the hour mark win when he threw on Dapo Afolayan, Omari Sterling-James and Simeon Maye in place of White, Charles-Cook and Nortey.
But just minutes after the changes referee Rushton sent off Byrne following a melee in the Wrexham penalty area. Goalscorer Barry was yellow carded for his role in the incident.
Ten man Moors battled on gamely in a bid to salvage a point but Kettle’s poked shot just wide of the upright was the only effort of note as The Dragons saw out the match without further alarm.
<b>Team:</b> Baxter, Murombedzi, Daly (c), Kettle, Flanagan, Byrne, Green, White (Afolayan 63), Carline, Nortey (Maye 63), Charles-Cook (Sterling-James 63).
Subs not used – Lewis, Sammons