James Hall

Fantastic strikes from Oladapo Afolayan and Darren Carter delivered a vital 3-1 win for Solihull against Maidenhead United, as the Moors go into the new year with a renewed hope of survival.

With the club’s second successive win comes fresh confidence, a springboard to close the 7-point gap to safety. It’s a result that should revitalise the players.

The first half was marred by a litany of dour decisions from the officials, including a clear penalty call against Maidenhead falling on deaf ears. Nothing doing was the decision, attracting a fiery reaction to warm the shivering Moors faithful. By the first thirty minutes, a volley of call and response chants echoed through the ground from both sides, aimed squarely at the Paul Marsden.

Maidenhead started the better, with several shots from Moses Emmanuel troubling the Moors defence, stopped well by Sheridan Martinez. It took the home side until the half-hour mark to really mount any credible attack, Afolyan’s cross meeting the foot of Jermaine Hylton, who failed to convert. Moors’ luck appeared to be changing for the better when Adrian Clifton was sent off for a careless lunge at Jamey Osbourne deep into the first half, but the victim became the villain, when Osbourne racked up two yellow cards in quick succession.

Mercifully for the Moors and the referee, the half-time whistle blew, with the sides going in scoreless.

Solihull’s reprieve would not last long however, as a deftly executed Harry Pritchard corner met the head of Emmanuel, who sent the ball sailing past the home keeper, giving Maidenhead the lead.

Ten minutes later however, Moors were back in the fight after man-of-the-match Afolyan found the net with a neatly executed strike from a few yards out. He was followed just over a minute later when Darren Carter cut inside to let loose a shot from long range, taking the Maidenhead keeper, and the Moors fans by surprise when it flew beyond the goalkeeper.

Moors’ breakthrough came despite Osbourne’s absence, whose distribution in central midfield seemed essential if the club was to have any shot at victory. A rousing counter-attack from Hylton carved open the Maidenhead defence, allowing a tidy pass to reach Afolyan, who wheeled away in celebration after notching his second goal of the game with an orderly finish.

By the 80-minute mark, Maidenhead’s tank was running dry, with the majority of the attacks coming from the away fans, whose relegation-baiting was quietly subdued when they were reminded of the scoreline by the Tuck Shop end.

A last-ditch effort for a Maidenhead consolation goal fizzled out in injury time, sealing a much-deserved win for the Moors.

Moors Line-up

  • 35 Martinez
  • 2 Green
  • 4 Carter
  • 18 Reckord (By The NEC’s Man of the Match)
  • 10 Hylton
  • 7 Murombedzi
  • 17 Afolayan (Substituted for Carline, 90)
  • 26 Daly
  • 30 Kelleher
  • 36 Osbourne
  • 37 Thomas (Substituted for Green, 82)

Substitutes

  • 3 Bowen
  • 19 Frempah
  • 22 Green
  • 25 Carline
  • 34 Asante

Maidenhead Line-Up

  • 1 Pentney
  • 2 Clerima
  • 3 Steer
  • Comley
  • 5 Massey
  • 4 Odametey
  • 7 Emmanuel (Substituted for Owusu, 69)
  • 14 Pritchard
  • 17 Clifton
  • 23 Peters
  • 26 Mulley (Substituted for Smith, 6 [Smith substituted for Marks, 54])

Substitutes

  • 9 Marks
  • 12 Owusu
  • 16 Hammond
  • 20 Kilman
  • 25 Smith
Referee: Paul Marsden
Attendance: 602