SOLIHULL Moors ended their three-match winless run to edge their way to a crucial win over Hartlepool United at Victoria Park, boosting their National League title chances.
A win by the same 1-0 scoreline as their last trip up to County Durham, almost a year to the day, was courtesy of Adi Yussuf’s goal just before the hour mark.
It propels Moors right back into contention for the title, sitting a point behind second-placed Salford City, and, after their 3-2 win over Eastleigh on Tuesday night, three off leaders Leyton Orient.
Tim Flowers side went into the match knowing the win was vital to keep alive any hopes, and knew they would have to do it without suspended duo Lee Vaughan and Liam Daly.
Their intention to attack was obvious, as Solihull proceeded to dominate the first-half proceedings.
Had it not been for Scott Loach’s performance between the sticks, Moors would have perhaps been ahead before the break.
Just three minutes in, Yussuf drove down the right wing and struck a shot that went out for a corner, whilst he went closer still after firing an effort for the top corner from a George Carline throw – only to see it tipped wide of the post.
Then, a corner whipped into the penalty area by Jamey Osborne met the head of Tyrone Williams, who’s header was destined for the net. but for the reflexes of Loach to deny him.
Danny Wright sent the ball into Yussuf, who expertly turned into a yard of space and cracked a shot for goal that had to be blocked.
Hartlepool were very much camped inside their own half, as Solihull continued to pile the pressure on them.
Jamie Reckord dangerous cross was headed down by Alex Gudger into Nathan Blissett, who diverted the ball goalwards, but not enough to beat Loach.
The latter was then denied in a one-on-one with the Hartlepool keeper, who was on top of his game to the detriment of Moors.
Wright found his header kept out, whilst Pools were denied by an equally stunning save by Ryan Boot – who kept alert to deny Nicke Kabamba’s goal-bound header.
Astonishingly the scoreline remained 0-0 at the break, but it certainly did not disappoint the neutral.
Hartlepool emerged a much more inspired side after half-time and applied more pressure to Solihull’s backline, who were more than adept at dealing what was thrown at them.
Liam Noble, who scored the winner in the reverse fixture back in September, struck a thunderous effort that was bravely blocked by captain Kyle Storer, whilst Luke Molyneux put a 20-yard effort wide.
But whilst Wright was again denied following a one-on-one situation, the imperious Loach would finally be beaten.
An Osborne corner caused havoc inside Pool’s penalty area, and with Loach unsighted until the last moment, Yussuf had the ball in the net from close-range.
Ryan Donaldson’s effort in response to going behind was kept out by Boot, whilst Wright suffered an injury which required treatment, bringing Jermaine Hylton into the play.
The substitute almost made an immediate impact when testing Loach from a tight angle, as both sides continued to search for a goal.
Hartlepool’s best efforts to claw their way back into the contest were ultimately fruitless, and Moors had the all-important three points in the bag.
For a game won by the odd goal, it was one of Moors’ best performances of the season.
Next up for Solihull is the visit of Havant and Waterlooville to the Automated Technology Group Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
Moors will be wary of the visitors, despite their lowly position, when considering the reverse fixture was won by Moors with a 1-0 scoreline in September, along with the fact that Havant’s relegation will be confirmed should they lose.