Moors’ James Ball marked his birthday in style, scoring the second as Moors ran out 2-0 winners over 10-man Hartlepool United in the National League on Tuesday night.
Krystian Pearce had put Moors into the lead on the hour mark, the defender showing a real striker’s instinct to turn Jordan Cranston’s goal-bound drive into the net.
Then with little under 10 minutes remaining, Ball made sure of the points, capitalising on Tyler Magloire’s slip to coolly slot beyond Henrich Ravas and into the net. It was no more than the hosts deserved.
Jimmy Shan’s men taking full advantage of the Pools going down to ten men, following Timi Odusina’s first-half sending off. Odusina was shown a straight red, adjudged to be the last man after a foul on Moors striker Cameron Archer.
The headline news prior to kick-off was Moors centre-half Alex Gudger making a return to action for the first time in nearly two months. Ball also took a place in the starting eleven as did Archer who after an impressive cameo against Morecambe in the FA Cup, was rewarded with a start.
Goalscorer against the Shrimps, Kyle Hudlin made way for Archer, the forward dropping to the bench alongside Mitch Hancox, while Joe Sbarra missed out through injury. Moors started well, no sign of a hangover from the disappointment of their extra-time 4-2 cup defeat to Morecambe on Saturday.
Not for the first time this season, the outlet of Cameron Coxe was proving to be a great attacking option for Shan’s side. And It was from the right, that Moors had a decent shout for a penalty in the opening exchanges.
After Coxe’s low driven cross was only partially cleared, Ball looked to have been clipped in the area but referee Tom Parsons waved away the appeals. It would prove to be a busy half for the match official, as the game turned into a fiercely contested battle with neither side letting up.
On both flanks Moors were posing problems, Jordan Cranston’s ball found Archer. He was snuffed out, but it fell to Osborne whose instinctive shot was expertly tipped over by Ravas.
Hartlepool did look lively on the break but Moors’ backline led by Krystian Pearce at the heart of it, made sure the away side’s front three were well marshalled. On the one occasion, Pools did beat the defence, the woodwork came to Moors’ rescue as Gavan Holohan’s curling effort hit the inside of the post and bounced to safety.
Then, a major flashpoint, as a game that was simmering, hit boiling point with the dismissal of Odusina, the centre half receiving his marching orders for impeding the last man. It was a decision which left the Pools dugout incensed, and manager Dave Challinor was still furious as the teams went in at the break.
HT: Solihull Moors 0-0 Hartlepool United
Moors came out of the traps quickly after the restart, and again the full-backs were proving the likeliest source of goals. Cranston’s whipped cross could only be parried by Ravas, Coxe was quickest to react but his header looped agonisingly over the bar.
With the extra man, Moors unsurprisingly enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball but on the counter, Hartlepool looked a threat. The tricky Holohan skipped past Tyrone Williams, worked himself an opening but couldn’t find a way past Boot who made himself big to save well at the near post.
Soon after Ball almost made it a birthday to remember but the Moors midfielder’s shot was narrowly deflected wide. A far more open second half, a game there to be won and Shan’s intentions were clear. The manager bringing on Jamie Ward and then Kyle Hudlin in quick succession.
And soon after Moors broke the deadlock, a short corner worked space for Cranston and the defender’s goal-bound effort was diverted home by Pearce from close in. It was a real tidy finish from the centre half and helped settle the home side.
Ward was looking an inspired substitution. His whipped ball deserved a finish to match but both Hudlin and Ball were caught on their heels as the cross flashed across the six-yard box.
Then it was Ball's moment to shine. The Moors man pounced on Pool centre half Magloire's mistake, and with only the keeper to beat, he made no mistake, slotting the ball nonchalantly into the bottom corner.
Pools almost grabbed a consolation when substitute Joe Grey wriggled his way into Moors box. The young striker's shot left Boot rooted to the spot but the ball struck the upright.
But that was the last meaningful action, as Moors claimed a valuable 2-0 win which saw them move to 10th in the National League table.
FT: Solihull Moors 2-0 Hartlepool United