Solihull Moors 3 Braintree Town 3 Attendance 556
welcomed for the first time ever to the Automated Technology Group Stadium, Braintree Town (known as The Iron) from South Essex, a team which in their history has
never been relegated. Moors were without the suspended Jack Byrne and injured
Calum Flanagan but Liam Daly had just
about recovered from the injury picked up at Dover. It was a welcome return to the
bench for Connor Franklin out since Boxing Day. The pitch was reasonably firm,
if not a little bumpy, otherwise conditions perfect for this return clash of
two teams in the lower half of the league; Moors had won the away game thanks
to a Harry White penalty in added time.
started brightly with an Dapo Afolayan crossing the ball into the box for Regan Charles Cook who could not control
the pace but then in an uncustomary lapse of concentration Solihull found them
selves a goal down with only 6 minutes on the clock; Braintree were awarded a
free kick just outside the box and what looked like a curling cross from Hall-Johnson
caught the defence by surprise as the ball sailed over Nathan Baxter and into
seemed to have steadied the ship as they regrouped and should have equalised on
15 minutes when Afolayan unleashed a bullet from 25 yards which was spilled by debutant
keeper McNamara but there was nobody there for a simple tap in. That paled into
insignificance on 17 minutes when
another Braintree free kick this time from Lee, was flicked on by Corne and smashed home by top scorer Cheek
from set pieces with little more than a third of the first half played looked
like a mountain to climb for Solihull but things were about to get worse;
Midson was hauled down in the box by Joel Kettle and referee Johnson pointed
immediately to the penalty spot. Michael Cheek duly sent Baxter the wrong way and with 23 minutes gone Moors were three
was to be anything salvaged from the game Solihull desperately need to cut the deficit
before the interval and their response was immediate; Afolayan was clattered outside the box and
from Ashley Sammons free kick Simeon Maye rose majestically with a powerful
header into the back of the net. 1 – 3.
booked for a needless foul as the half
hour mark approached and Harry Lee’s free kick from 35 yards smashed against
the upright and away for a corner. Afolayan
responded with a powerful run and
shot but with McNamara beaten the ball was cleared off the line although Gayle
knew very little about it.
tide was turning and Daly was just wide from Sammons corner whilst Kristian Green was robbed after a
defence splitting header from George Carline. That said Braintree had the last action of the half
after the linesman flagged for a foul in Moors favour but the referee decided to give it the other way with Lee’s
free kick hitting the side netting.
easiest half time talk from Liam McDonald but he told his players to stick to
the game plan and the goals would come. Even he would be surprised by what was
about to follow as the second half commenced!
Sammons corner was so close whilst a good run and cross from Murombedzi saw
Daly out jumped in the six yard area. Regan Charles Cook took the ball across
the 18 yard box but shot over the bar. Afolayan struck from 12 yards but on the
wrong side of the post.
starting to dominate mid field Braintree were reliant on break aways and
Baxter did well to save from Cheek on the hour. McDonald swapped Nortey for Omari
Sterling James on 64 minutes to bolster tired legs and the impact was immediate
as he shot at McNamara but the keeper was well positioned.
again thwarted by the keeper on the end of another Sammons corner. McNamara
foiled Charles Cook’s effort on the end
of Green’s through ball and with 15 minutes to go the keeper was more than
equal to Kettle’s powerful header from Sammons free kick. For all their efforts
it was still 1 – 3 down for the Mighty Moors.
replaced Charles Cook for the last quarter hour but when Maye clattered the
impressive Cheek it needed all of Baxter’s agility to keep his side in the
running as he dived full length to the far post.
precious minutes left George Carline produced a moment of brilliance as the
powerful mid fielder bullied his way passed three defenders before feeding the ball through to Afolayan
who lashed the ball into the back of the net. It was a stunning strike under pressure with little
or no back lift – sensational stuff but just what Solihull needed. 2 – 3.
pressure was now relentless and Afolayan was so unlucky to see his 20 yarder
skim the wrong side of the upright on 81
not have to wait long; with 4 minutes left Sterling James was brought down and
Carline out jumped the Iron’s defence to meet Sammons’ free kick with an
unstoppable header beyond the keeper.3 – 3 and Moors were back!
minutes added time was played out uneventfully and the oh so precious point was
in the bag.
It was a
stunning come back – the supporters saluted the players and the team saluted
the fans - everyone had played a part in
this remarkable game.
McDonald was almost breathless at the end of the encounter-“ to concede three
goals from set pieces was frustratingly bad for a team which is usually so good
in those situations. It was a horrendous start but I told the players at half
time that we would open them up. To come back from 3 goals is all down to the spirit
in the squad.Our substitutions were instrumental in the fight back
if it was simply not our day with 20 minutes to go but we carried on right to
the end – that is what we are all about. As bad as we were defending in the
first half , we were magnificent in the second. It was a good point!”
travel to second from bottom of the table North Ferriby next Saturday KO 3.00
pm whilst on the following Tuesday its off to their nearest neighbours Forest
Green Rovers in deepest Gloucestershire for a 7.45 KO
John Clothier Photos Courtesy of