SOLIHULL MOORS manager Tim Flowers said he could have no complaints about the season-long efforts of his side after a 1-0 defeat to AFC Fylde in the play-off semi-final ended any hopes of promotion and a trip to Wembley this weekend.
Moors were downed by Danny Philliskirk’s show-stopping strike in the second minute, which proved to be the only goal of the game, despite a flurry of chances that fell the way of the hosts.
The closest Solihull went to equalising was through Jamey Osborne’s last-gasp free-kick that struck the outside of the post, but in a game that was troubled by strong headwinds, there was not to be the fairytale finish to the Moors’ fantastic season.
Flowers applauded his team, despite an agonising play-off defeat in front of a record crowd of 3,681 at The Automated Technology Group Stadium.
“I can’t fault anybody in any way shape or form.
“What’s been achieved, the players have contributed a huge amount of that – they’ve been awesome from start to finish.
“I thought we gave a really good account of ourselves, the second-half especially.
“It was wave after wave (of attacks) in the second-half and we just couldn’t score – it was one of those days where we just couldn’t convert.”
But Flowers said his side must now move on, and challenged his troops to give it their all again next season.
“There’s a lot of pride, no one’s died, so we move on – can we improve as a team?
“I think we have to, when you look at some of the personnel that are going to be in this division next season – it’s going to be a tough league.
“We’ll dust ourselves down, analyse and see where we can get better.
“You can very quickly become a victim of your own success – we’re under no illusions about this division and how hard it is.
“We’ve got to take stock and think about how we can compete again.”
After Darren Carter drew an early save from Fylde goalkeeper Jay Lynch in the opening minute, there was very much the feel that the game would be an open affair with chances for both to grab an early goal.
And so it proved, as Fylde went down the other end and scored, when Philliskirk picked up a loose ball followed a failed cross and flew the ball into the corner of the net past the outstretched Ryan Boot.
Moors finally had another concerted chance of their own, when Darren Carter mishit a shot into Alex Gudger’s path, who’s low effort forced Lynch to scramble to keep the ball out.
Chances continued to fall down either end, as Dan Bradley swept a volley off the ground and onto the post – to the relief of the Moors faithful.
The best of the remaining action came after the break, with Osborne weaving his way through to the edge of the area and cracking a left-footed shot that just skimmed past the left-hand post immediately after the restart.
Danny Wright had a powerful strike flash wide of the mark, whilst a Liam Daly header from a free-kick was batted out by the outstretched arm of Lynch, as Fylde held firm.
With the minutes dwindling, there was very much the feel amongst the crowd that it would not be Moors’ day, despite repeatedly asking questions of Fylde’s resolve.
Even when the visitor’s defence, and the goalkeeper, were eventually beaten, the woodwork was there to save them, denying Moors in the third minute of stoppage time from Osborne’s aforementioned free-kick.
That would be as good as it got for Moors, in a match that was not short of the will to win.
But despite their play-off heartbreak, Flowers and his Moors side can hold their heads high, after defying the odds to finish second in the National League and bringing the club agonisingly close to the Football League.
It remains to be seen whether this season’s heroics can be repeated next term, but with ambitious plans in place at the club – nothing remains out of reach for the Moors going forward.