Solihull Moors vs Boreham Wood
Saturday 18th March 2023, 3.00pm
ARMCO Arena, Vanarama National League

After coming out on top in a crucial six-pointer against play-off rivals Southend United, the Wood make the trip to the West Midlands to take on Solihull Moors, and will be looking to increase their unbeaten run to 15 games with a sixth successive victory.


Formed in 2008 after the merger of existing clubs Moor Green and Solihull Borough, Solihull Moors have ultimately only ever competed in the fifth and sixth tiers of English football after entering the Conference North in their maiden campaign, remaining their until their promotion in 2016 under Marcus Bignot. The Moors are a club on the rise though, following up two relegation battles with a second place finish in 2018/19, just three years after reaching the fifth tier in the first place. They have subsequently established themselves in the National League, but narrowly missed out on promotion to League Two again with the club falling at the hands of Grimsby Town in last season’s play-off final. The arrival of Neal Ardley as manager in 2021 had evidently seen a notable upturn in form, but they have so far been unable to make amends on last season’s disappointment with the Moors currently sitting 11th in the National League table, nine points away from the top seven although with a game in hand.

Indeed, the current campaign hasn’t been quite as successful as the last one and Ardley will be hoping his side can quickly get back on track. The Moors have suffered a handful of  blows this season in the form of top scorer Andy Dallas joining Kyle Hudlin and former loanee Alex Reid out the door last week, after the latter two had departed last summer, and this has seen the responsibility up front fall to the reliable Joe Sbarra in attack, who is once again their top scorer with ten goals from midfield this season. He is joined by Josh Kelly who has been given an even larger sense of duty since Dallas’ departure following his move from Maidenhead United last summer, while National League North top scorer Mark Beck adds another option up top after joining from Darlington at the end of January. Meanwhile, after needing to replenish their options in attack, the Moors have also looked to strengthen in other areas having already conceded more goals than in the entirety of last season, and this has seen Ben Coker, Joey Jones, Tom Whelan and David Davis arrive at the ARMCO Arena to add steal in midfield, and they will be hoping to push for a play-off place in the second half of the season as a result.


Solihull Moors 3-1 Scunthorpe United
Tuesday 14th March 2023
Vanarama National League

Late goals from Joe Sbarra and Josh Kelly meant Solihull Moors made it three victories on the spin, with a 3-1 victory over Scunthorpe United on Tuesday evening.

A strong start from the visitors saw them control much of the ball in the opening five minutes, and they produced the first chance as Cameron Wilson had a goal-bound effort denied after Ryan Boot tipped it onto the post. Ardley’s men were quickly back on the front-foot and almost found an opener when Mark Beck met Justin Donawa’s high cross, forcing a fine save from Aaron Chapman who turned it round the post. Unfortunately for Chapman, he was about to go from hero to villain in a matter of minutes after being charged down by Kelly with the ball at his feet, with the Moors forward showing persistence and tenacity to divert his clearance into the back of the net and give them a fortuitous opener. The Iron didn’t look like a side looming in the relegation places though and reacted well, threatening soon after through Richie Bennett who called Boot into action again with a strong save down low. They eventually made their pressure pay just after the half-hour mark when Will Smith rose highest to meet a free kick and direct his header into the ground, gaining enough momentum on the ball to see it bounce into the top corner and take the visitors into the interval on level terms.

The Moors were looking to restore their lead after the break and began the second half brightly, with two chances in quick succession through Donawa as he saw a fierce effort blocked before a goal-bound strike was well-saved by Chapman shortly after. The visitors continued to carry a threat though and forced Boot into action again from another set-piece, with the Moors stopper this time diving across goal to claim Andrew Boyce’s header. However, the Moors looked a different side to the one that was arguably second best in the first half, and Donawa again went close when he blazed over a low Sbarra cross that had evaded everyone before him. Ardley’s troops huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a breakthrough as of yet, and they almost handed their opponents the lead when Tom Pugh was allowed to break away down the right, but he couldn’t control his effort when faced one-on-one with Boot. With time ticking down, Moors pushed on and almost grabbed a winner through Beck when his effort from the edge of the area breezed inches wide of the post, making it look like it just wasn’t going to be Moors’ night. Fortunately though, there was still time for Beck to turn provider in a moment that proved to be match-winning, as James Clarke’s cross was flicked on by Donawa to Beck, and with his back to goal he laid it off to an on-rushing was Sbarra who slammed into the bottom corner from inside the area. That prompted a huge effort to hang on to the three points and they avoided a huge scare when Bennett poked an effort over the bar in injury time, and the Iron would be made to pay as the Moors soon eased the pressure when Kelly added a third, using his pace to get in behind and execute a delightful lob past the Scunthorpe goalkeeper and seal a hard-earned three points.


Scunthorpe United (H) W3-1
Torquay United (H) W3-2
Maidstone United (H) W2-0
Altrincham (A) L4-1
FC Halifax Town (A) D1-1
Chesterfield (H) D0-0

Having struggled for consistency throughout the campaign, the Moors will be looking for a late play-off push as they attempt to turn their form around, and have enjoyed the better of things in recent weeks. Although they did lose six of their opening eight league games of 2023, they were able to follow up a point at the Wood with another draw at home to Chesterfield, and this signalled a potential change in fortunes against two sides fighting right in the middle of the play-off places. A third successive draw may have brought them back down to earth though against FC Halifax Town, and a 4-1 battering against Altrincham proved a real sucker-punch as well with the Moors slipping further away from the top seven. However, goals from Jamey Osborne and Joe Sbarra sealed a first victory in six outings against strugglers Maidstone United, and this sparked a run of three wins in a row as they followed it up with a narrow win against Torquay United before late goals from Josh Kelly and Sbarra sealed all three points last time out against Scunthorpe United, showing plenty of spirit to secure the victory after Will Smith had previously levelled the score before half time. As a result, they will come into this weekend’s fixture with plenty of confidence, as they looked to close the gap on Eastleigh in seventh.


After a 16-year playing career came to an end due to injuries, Neal Ardley returned to former club Cardiff City as academy manager and remained there for five years before taking on his first senior managerial role at AFC Wimbledon. He enjoyed a successful six years with the Dons and achieved promotion to League One for the first time in their history, but departed in November 2018, later taking over at Notts County. He was unable to prevent their slide into the National League and although he subsequently guided the Magpies to the National League play-off final along with the FA Trophy semi-final, he was sacked after three years in the role after being unable to take them back to the Football League. He was soon named manager of Solihull Moors though and once again reached the National League play-off final, but he would fall short for a second time as he was unable to take the Moors into League Two for the first time in their history.


Josh Kelly joined Solihull Moors in the summer from National League rivals Maidenhead United, and has established himself as one of the more dangerous forwards in the division. The Magpies’ promising young striker, Kelly made his first team debut as a 17-year old and signed his first contract on his 18th birthday, after spending time with Ascot United and Windsor as a youth player. Season-long loans at Chalfont St Peter and Walton Casuals saw him gain experience, with the latter in 2017/18 bringing 40 goals as well as a decisive penalty in the shootout, helping the club achieve promotion to the Southern League Premier South via the play-offs, and he was subsequently brought into the Magpies first team where he caught the eye with breath-taking strikes against Eastleigh and FC Halifax Town. After establishing himself as a fully-fledged regular since the age of 19, he went on to notch 17 goals in all competitions during 2021/22, winning the Golden Boot, Manager’s Player and Players’ Player to clean up at the Magpies’ 2022/23 End of Season awards.

He was bound to be hot property in the summer and departed York Road with 27 goals in 129 appearances, with the Northern Ireland youth international moving to the ARMCO Arena where he has continued to feature regularly. The versatile forward has primarily featured on the wing for the Moors, but with his attacking responsibility increasing following the departure of Andy Dallas to Chesterfield, he has added three goals in his last two games to increase his season tally to eight, including the opener and winner last time out against Scunthorpe United.


Boreham Wood 1-1 Solihull Moors
Tuesday 14th February 2023
Vanarama National League

Chris Bush’s first goal for the Wood wasn’t enough to seal all three points, as they were ultimately held to a draw by Solihull Moors after Jamey Osborne came off the bench to level early in the second half.

A quiet opening to proceedings brought little in the way of clear chances despite plenty of neat passes in the build-up, with neither side really able to gain the upper hand. Tyrone Marsh produced the first shot of the game after five minutes when he drew a diving save out of Boot from distance, shortly before Donawa sent an effort straight down the throat of Nathan Ashmore at the other end. The Wood started to show some more intensity as the half progressed and forced a couple of corners, with Érico Sousa picking out Marsh in the penalty area requiring the covering defender to get a touch and put it behind. The resulting delivery floated all the way to former Moor Danny Newton at the far post who sent the ball back in with Boot needing to tip it over the crossbar, and it was from the second corner where the hosts made the breakthrough. The in-form Josh Rees sent the ball into the danger area where Bush was waiting to head home his first goal for the club, and this opened the floodgates as the Wood continued to pose a threat. Sousa nearly found himself in behind moments later with James Clarke needing to make a last ditch intervention, and he would be the architect of a golden opportunity just after the half-hour mark when he curled a wonderful ball into the path of Marsh who brilliantly took it down before firing a venomous shot that was blocked from point blank range by Callum Howe, with Rees picking up the pieces and sliding in Newton who’s tame effort rolled into the gloves of Boot. The Moors nearly gifted their opponents a second when Rees robbed possession in the penalty area before picking out Marsh who had an effort saved by Boot, and they went close again to doubling their advantage as Boot palmed away a Sousa effort in stoppage time, but they were able to hold on and go into the break ahead after a comfortable first half.

The visitors found an equaliser mere minutes into the second half with Osborne making an instant impact off the bench. Donawa drove down the right-hand side before sending a cross into the middle that was cleared as far as the edge of the box, but the Wood failed to close Osborne down in time with the substitute firing a wonderful half volley goalward that made the net bulge. The Wood were in need of a reaction and Newton came ever so close to scoring against his former club, with Sousa standing a cross up to the back post where the forward was waiting to score a certain goal, but Clarke got up highest to head over the crossbar. They soon came even closer to restoring their lead as Rees’ corner caused havoc in the penalty area, but it produced nothing but pinball as at least two rebounds were blocked before a shot from Jack Payne was eventually cleared away, and the Moors somehow survived. Osborne would later send a free kick wide as the Moors produced a rare chance, but they were put straight back under the cosh as the ball broke for Rees in the box, but Jevon Mills produced an important block to keep him at bay. This would precede another excellent opportunity for the hosts, with a corner once again causing chaos. The ball fell to Bush at the back post who kept the chance alive by hooking it back in, with the ball soon finding its way back at the feet of the former Bromley man who’s shot from distance was caught by Boot. Neal Ardley’s men amped up the pressure as the game reached the final 15 minutes, and the Wood started to live dangerously as the visitors looked to find a winner against the run of play, with Joe Sbarra and Osborne seeing chances go amiss. The Moors would soon have Boot to thank for the score remaining level though, with the Wood coming ever so close to making them pay for their earlier misses as Newton forced Boot into another important save, but the ball fell to Rees who teed up George Broadbent who struck a powerful effort goalward, but the Moors stopper palmed it away from danger once again. The recently introduced Andy Dallas then sliced a tame effort wide after Tom Whelan’s cross evaded everyone, and he was almost punished when Ndlovu headed another Rees corner a hair-length wide, but this was all the Wood could muster as it ended honours even.



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