Solihull Moors continued their impressive pre-season run with a 1-1 draw against Highgate United and a 2-0 win over Rushall Olympic.
Ex-Solihull Moors favourite Gary Birch has taken on the manager’s job at Highgate – would he know a little too much about Moors’ tactics and spoil their unbeaten run?
Moors boss Marcus Bignot decided to use a blend of youth and experience on a warm summer evening.
Included in his squad was defender Jordan Tunnicliffe, a former West Bromwich Albion Academy player released from Barnsley in May.
Despite having the best of the game Moors were not converting their chances in front of goal.
Darren Byfield’s stunning 18-yard drive on 11 minutes skimmed across the bar while a well-directed header from Aaron Brown from a Trey Braithwaite in-swinging corner produced a good save from the keeper.
On 22 minutes Darryl Knights found Brown in space inside the box but his stinging shot was again well saved.
On the half-hour, Michael Taylor was robbed by a finger-tip save from a Keenah Rosser cross but the waves of attacks invited Highgate to hit Moors on the break, which they did on 40 minutes.
Lei Brown found himself on the edge of the box and under pressure the ex-Redditch centre-forward unleashed a screamer which hit the inside of the right-hand post before flying into the net. Gate upped their game after the interval and it was end-to-end play as Moors sought a way back.
Lewis Hayden had the ball in the net on 55 minutes but it was disallowed.
On the hour, Cooper and Gueyes replaced Hayden and Taylor resulting in Moors having better success down the left flank.
Brown fired in a shot on 63 minutes, Byfield minutes later but to no avail, while Chamberlain in the Moors goal produced some brave saves to keep his side in with a chance.
Then, with just seconds remaining, Solihull were awarded a corner and the deflected in-swinger eluded everyone, including the gate keeper, as the ball crept into the net.
MOORS: Chamberlain, Rosser, Cleary, Taundrey, Tunnicliffe, Ballinger, Brown, Hayden (Cooper), Taylor (Gueyes), Braithwaite, Byfield.
The last time Moors played Rushall was in January 2102 when they won away by a solitary late goal in the Birmingham Senior Cup.
Moors started much the brighter of the two teams with keeper Gemmell keeping his side in the game with a series of spectacular saves.
The first denied a well-hit volley from Junior English and moments later cut out a dangerous cross from Owen Story.
Moors were hit on the break when Ntamark, signed on a year’s loan from Hednesford, found Marshall clear in the box but the centre-forward stumbled as he looked to shoot.
The Pics’ best chance came from Ntamark minutes later but Tony Breeden was equal to the shot and it was the Solihull keeper on 33 minutes reacting well to deny a Winwood cross.
Solihull came straight back but Liam Daly’s header was foiled by the impressive Gemmell and it was the shot-stopper again on 34 minutes producing a terrific double save from Darryl Knights and then Omar Bogle.
Moors’ persistence finally paid off with the breakthrough five minutes before the interval when Daly met a pin-point corner from Knights, giving the keeper no chance at the far post.
It could have been two goals seconds later but once again the home side had their keeper to thank as he parried a powerful strike from Bogle
With manager Marcus Bignot making just the one chance during the interval (Braithwaite for Story) Rushall substituted four players including Gemmell, who made way for new signing from Walsall Liam Roberts but he could only watch helplessly as in the 46 minutes a Knights volley rattled the underside of the bar.
The home side were now in the thick of things and Breeden did well to reach a low shot from Mugisha. Craner went close while Mugisha tested Breeden again.
Moors soaked up the pressure and, with 14 minutes left, Bogle beat the offside trap to shoot low past Roberts into the net.
MOORS: Breeden, George, Rosser, Denny (Taundry 72) Daly, Elvins, Fleet (Brown 72), English (Gueyes 53), Bogle, Knights (Byfield 78), Story (Braithwaite 46).