TIM Flowers’ Solihull Moors are set for a home tie against either Rangers under-21s or Northern Irish side Ballymena United, after the last 16 draw for the Scottish Challenge Cup was made on Tuesday.
It follows Moors’ progression in their first-ever appearance in the competition away at Lowland League side Kelty Hearts, in a tie that was decided on penalties following a 1-1 draw in regulation time.
Matty Stenson’s equaliser 18 minutes from time cancelled out a first-half header from Cammy Russell – who was one of two Hearts players to miss in the shoot-out.
Solihull skipper Kyle Storer admitted his side’s first half performance was below standard, but was pleased with the reaction in the second half through to the successful penalty shoot-out.
“We got a roasting at half time, and rightly so, but in the second half we played our game,” he said.
“We got onto the front foot and scored a good goal, it was good movement from Mitch Hancox and Stenson did a good job with the finish.
“From that moment on, there was only one side that was going to go on and win it – I was delighted there was no extra time.”
“The penalties were fantastic, each and every one of them, [Ryan] Boot made two fantastic saves.”
The 32-year-old admitted the Scottish step five side were a good match for the Moors throughout the game, but felt his team got over the initial surprise of their standard and grew into the contest.
“We always expected them to come out of the traps quickly,” said Storer.
“They played in behind, which is what we try to do to teams, and it did catch us by surprise a little bit.
“We had to rise to the occasion, and second half we did that.
“It’s always going to be feisty, it’s a one off game. It was a competitive game, had a good edge to it, and we’re just pleased to be into the next round.”
Jamey Osborne had the first crack at goal at New Central Park, sending an audacious 30-yard attempt wide of the post, while Russell provided a glimpse of the threat that he posed when forcing Ryan Boot into an excellent stop.
After a few close shaves, Kelty hit the front when Russell drifted to the near post to nudge a header into the net from a cross, giving Barry Ferguson’s side a half-time lead.
The closest Moors came in the opening stages of the second half was from Stenson’s near-fortuitous cross that deflected narrowly over the Kelty bar, before the same men smashed home the leveller 18 minutes from time.
MacKenzie was equal to Hancox’s strike, but could do little to keep out the rebound from the Moors forward.
With no further action of note, the game headed straight to penalties.
After both sides scored their opening penalties, Kelty missed their next two, with Boot keeping out Russell before Scott Linton struck the woodwork.
With Moors scoring three from three, Kelty’s Thomas Reilly kept his side alive by keeping his cool from 12 yards.
But up stepped Darren Carter for the decisive penalty, slotting the ball home to evoke memories of his winning spot kick in the 2002 Championship play-off final in his Birmingham City days and sending Solihull through.
Solihull now return to National League action on Saturday (3pm) when visiting Barrow.