Moors On The Mend, The Resurgence of 'Doomed' Solihull

It all looked doom and gloom for Solihull Moors as the first three months of their season passed, writes Luke Turner.

Three wins, the departure of Liam McDonald and Richard Money’s resignation was compiled with being rooted to the foot of the Vanarama National League table – all of this and we had only reached mid-November.

Not to mention the influx of players coming in and out of the door at the football club, the term ‘consistency’ hadn’t quite been reached.

First-team coach Gary Whild took charge of the Moors’ last defeat at the Automated Technology Group Stadium – a 2-0 loss to Sutton United on November 18, before in stepped Mark Yates assisted by ex-England goalkeeper Tim Flowers.

With the season looking over before it had even got started, Yates knew that points were needed – and fast! To get the team to within touching distance of safety was going to take time, and so it proved.

The 48-year-old began his tenure with the club sitting six points adrift of safety and brought in Kwame Thomas, Jamey Osborne, Jamie Reckord and Max O’Leary in the hope of turning the fortunes around.

After just one win in his opening seven matches, that gap stretched to 12 points as they travelled to Barrow at the end of 2017.

A gap of 15 points separated the Moors and Barrow as the home side took the lead – then came the turning point. Goals from skipper Darren Carter and Reckord gave Solihull all three points and that’s where their season came alive.

The New Year kicked-off with a run of three wins out of their next four which further closed the gap and Yates was deservedly recognised with the Manager of the Month award for January.

After missing the opening months of the campaign through injury, Jermaine Hylton was in full flow as his magic continues to prove vital – his brace in the 3-0 success against Woking gave the striker his just reward.

Top scorer Oladapo Afolayan then waved goodbye to the club as he set off for Premier League West Ham United. He marked his final game by netting the clinching goal in the 3-1 victory at Dagenham & Redbridge.

A big loss for sure but thanks to backing from the board and some shrewd business in the transfer market, Yates and Solihull were well-equipped to move on from ‘Dapo’ and focus solely on survival.

Former Cheltenham Town captain Kyle Storer arrived and has brought steel to the midfield, Osborne made his loan spell permanent as he continues to light up the league, while Adi Yussuf was snapped up and made the perfect start after bagging two goals on his debut.

The Moors are now conceding under a goal per game with on-loan ‘keeper Max O’Leary providing a solid base along with centre backs Liam Daly and Fiacre Kelleher.

The five-game unbeaten run came to an end against Ebbsfleet at the beginning of February, but Yates’ men bounced back in style as the outstanding form at home continued. A win and a draw against promotion hopefuls Dover Athletic and Wrexham made for an impressive weeks’ work.

And that’s where the Moors find themselves, now just two points from safety and increasingly putting the pressure on those above.

Having watched their season unfold closely, the confidence and belief is there now more than ever in their bid to beat the drop.

The job isn’t done - far from it - but Solihull Moors are heading in the right direction and to quote the words from manager Yates himself: “I know that I’ve got enough in that dressing room, we have plenty to stay up.”

With 12 games remaining, the incentive of playing fifth tier football for the third season running has now been made a realistic possibility for the Midlands club.

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