James Ball’s second goal in as many games couldn’t save Moors from slipping to a 4-1 defeat at Sutton United on Saturday afternoon. Against second in the National League table, Moors rallied after the break but ultimately fell to just their third league loss of the season.
Moors made a promising start but Sutton took a fortuitous lead via Moors stopper, Ryan Boot’s head, after Isaac Olaofe had seen his long-range effort hit the woodwork. As the first half wore on, Jimmy Shan’s team came under the cosh, and the U’s doubled their advantage when Tobi Sho-Silva finished after tidy work from David Ajiboye.
But at the start of the second period, the visitors flew out of the traps. The half was barely two minutes old when Ball headed Jamie Ward’s clipped delivery into the bottom corner. A comeback looked on but as Moors pushed forward, Sutton capitalised, Olaofe played in Ajiboye who had time to round Boot and slot home.
Then as the game neared its conclusion, substitute Aaron Simpson made the points safe, his deflected shot giving Boot absolutely no chance late on.
It was a tough one to take for Moors who were unable to impose their game style on Matt Gray's side.
Full Match Report
With a congested fixture list ahead, Moors boss Shan chose to shake up his starting eleven for the trip to the U’s.
Welsh U21 international Cameron Coxe was rested, with Justin Donawa coming in at right-wing back for his first start since joining from Darlington. Captain Kyle Storer was also given a breather, Stephen Gleeson took over the armband and midfielder Callum Maycock came into the team. Jamey Osborne is also having his game time managed and was left out of the squad, while Alex Gudger missed out after playing the full 90 minutes on Tuesday against Hartlepool - the defender recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and a minor flare-up on his knee meant he wasn't to be risked.
James Ball retained his place in the side following his goal on Tuesday night, Jamie Ward alongside him behind Cameron Archer up front. In their changed strip of red, a nod to Solihull Borough, and in front of fans for the first time this season, it was a steady start from Shan’s men.
Debutant Donawa settled quickly, providing an outlet down the visitors’ right, linking well with Tyrone Williams who was keen to overlap at any given opportunity. Moors enjoyed plenty of the ball early on but fell behind midway through the half, the U’s profiting from a stroke of good fortune.
Olaofe unleashed a fierce shot which struck the foot of the post before bouncing off the unfortunate Boot and into the net.
Moors were behind but undeterred. On the half-hour, Ward broke free, fed in Donawa on the right, but the Bermudian could only flash his shot wide of the far post. Close call.
Unlucky for Sutton’s opener, Boot was at his very best to claw out Eastmond’s rasping drive from the edge of the area, at full stretch to tip over a ball destined for the top corner. Sutton came close from the resulting corner, a U’s defender heading narrowly wide and almost doubling the hosts’ advantage.
It was a warning sign for Moors who conceded a second shortly before half-time. Ajiboye showed neat footwork to trick his way through and Sho-Silva was on hand to fire past Boot.
As the referee’s whistle blew, a vital half-time team talk lay ahead for Shan’s men, finding themselves 2-0 down at the break for the first time this season.
HT: Sutton United 2-0 Solihull Moors
Moors started the second half with real vigour and halved the deficit within two minutes of the restart. Ward’s cross from the byline was beautifully floated into the box and Ball didn’t need a second invitation, directing his header beyond a static Dean Bouzanis in the home goal.
Ball came close to the equaliser soon after, wrestling an opening, but his shot was smartly saved at the near post by Bouzanis. Whatever was said at half time, had clearly worked. Moors suddenly seemed rejuvenated and began to show they were more than up for the fight.
But the U’s did not falter and survived the early spell of pressure from the visitors, and their slender lead was still intact with 20 minutes remaining. Although, Moors were knocking on the door. Ward jinked his way into the area, he looked to pull the trigger but was halted by a strong challenge.
Then with Shan’s side pushing for the equaliser, the U’s caught them on the counter and dealt them a second-half sucker punch.
Olaofe was again involved, having won a 50/50 on the halfway line, he slipped in Ajiboye who calmly rounded the onrushing Boot and slotted into an empty net.
It was a strike that all but extinguished Moors’ hopes of coming away with anything. Striker Kyle Hudlin entered the fray but it was Sutton substitute Simpson who made the impact.
With five minutes remaining, Simpson cut through a tiring Moors defence, took aim from distance and his strike flew past Boot with the aid of a heavy deflection.
It rounded off a difficult afternoon for Moors who now have a week to dust themselves down before they entertain Bromley at the SportNation.bet Stadium next Saturday (12th December) in front of the BT Sport cameras.
FT: Sutton United 4-1 Solihull Moors
Solihull Moors: Boot, Donawa (Hudlin 79), Williams, Pearce, Hancox, Cranston, Gleeson, Maycock (Storer 65), Ball, Ward, Archer (Clayton-Phillips 55)
Subs not used: Clayton, Piggott.
Report by Bradley Rice
Image by Tom King