Solihull travelled to Kent for their first ever meeting with Dartford hoping to spring a surprise against their struggling Conference Premier opponents who came into the game on the back of six defeats and having not kept a clean sheet for 25 games.
Moors could not have tried harder in this FA Trophy first round proper tie but paid the price at the end of 90 minutes for their failure to convert any of their many well-worked attacks on goal.
Marcus Bignot had a full squad from which to choose and once the team had taken a few minutes to acclimatise themselves to the ground and the speed of the hosts, it was Moors pushing for the opening goal.
Darren Byfield had the first real chance on eight minutes but it was a straight forward take for Dartford keeper Jason Brown. Ryan Beswick’s 18-yard effort again caused no problem, but Brown needed his wits about him as Bogle was denied with 15 minutes played.
Again, as Beswick advanced, Brown produced a finger-tip save as his defender, under pressure, miskicked the ball towards his own goal.
Noble’s free kick midway through the half was foiled by a low diving header from Rob Elvins, while Beswick’s curling corner (one of many) needed a two-handed punch from the keeper as it bent towards the top right-hand corner. Liam Daly was just wide from a Jay Denny free-kick and again on 30 minutes when he nodded down another Beswick corner which was scrambled off the line.
Michael Nottingham’s fine run down the right flank ended when his cross eluded everyone and Beswick had a penalty shout waved away when he was hauled back as he advanced on Brown. With five minutes of the half remaining Dartford’s Danny Harris launched a flyer from all of 40 yards which skied over Tony Breeden.
The Darts looked more up for the fight as the second half got underway but the first chance fell to Moors when Omar Bogle could not reach a fierce clearance from Breeden despite the home keeper slipping as the Moors striker approached.
Byfield’s cross was headed straight at the keeper by Beswick, but then everything changed on 54 minutes when Junior English was harshly adjudged to have brought down Callum Driver 12 yards out. Dartford captain Elliot Bradbrook coolly sent Breeden the wrong way as the hosts opened the scoring.
Moors response could not have been more emphatic as from the restart they pushed forward with flowing one touch football, but Darryl Knights could only watch as his 15-yard effort beat Brown only to rebound off the upright and away to safety.
Beswick headed wide on the hour mark, while Byfield’s hard, low shot from the right produced an equally good save from Brown.
However, Moors were caught on the break on 74 minutes when Ryan Hayes collected a long pass across the pitch, found Tom Bradbrook whose low drive into the right-hand corner gave Breeden no chance for Dart’s second goal.
As Solihull threw everything forward, Bignot made a treble substitution with ten minutes remaining, bringing on Reece Fleet, Richard Taundrey and Dominic Langdon but Solihull could find no way through.
* Tomorrow Moors travel to Colwyn Bay for more league action against the team managed by former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair.