Solihull Moors fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Barrow AFC, on a windy day at the AutoTech stadium. Goals from Andrew Burns and Paddy Lacey secured a deserved victory for the Cumbrian visitors in a low key, end of season game.
Moors were forced to defend deep early on, as Barrow dictated the tempo. They played some intricate football with midfielder Sam Sheridan, previously of Stockport, often at the centre of things. While the hosts dealt with what was chucked at them in the air, they struggled to get to the second ball and lacked composure at times.
Solihull Moors’ first attempt of note came fifteen minutes in. A long throw from journeyman centre-back Exodus Geohaghon, currently at his seventeenth different club, found Richard Taundry, who fired wide from range. The versatile Taundry, a graduate of the successful Walsall academy, then picked up an injury shortly afterwards, to be replaced by midfielder Jay Denny.
That change briefly sparked the hosts into life, and they began to get forward with more ambition than in the first twenty minutes. Dior Angus managed to win one or two free-kicks in dangerous areas, and Barrow were relinquishing control. Moors still lacked quality on the ball, however. Whenever the forwards got the ball in advanced positions, they struggled to hold it up effectively, and were at times isolated. A sharp, neat exchange of passes between right-back Alex Dean and Jay Denny was a more memorable moment in a difficult half for the hosts going forward.
An injury to Omar Bogle did not help the cause of Marcus Bignot’s side, and Bogle was replaced by the stocky Gary Birch. Birch’s technique was very good for this level, he linked play quite nicely, and you got the feeling he could be playing in a higher league if he had more pace. The first half looked to be petering out, after a scrappy ten minutes. Barrow had other ideas, and epitomized this period in play with the opening goal. A cross from the left led to a dramatic scramble in the six-yard box, before right-back Andrew Burns tapped the ball in to put Barrow in front. A very scrappy goal, in what was at that point a scrappy game of football.
A half-time lead for the Bluebirds was justified. You would not have guessed that Darren Edmondson’s men were without a win in seven before today, because they had played much the better football, and kept the ball with ease. While Barrow have one of the better defensive records in the Skrill North, they do have a relatively young side. A 6-0 home loss to Gainsborough earlier in the season, and throwing away 4-2 injury-time lead against Boston United a few weeks ago, suggests they are vulnerable when put under pressure. Unfortunately, Solihull Moors failed to apply it.
The home side were slightly improved after the break, though. Michael Taylor won a free-kick just outside the box after a very dangerous challenge from the offender, who was not even booked, much to the wrath of the home fans. The free-kick was fired over the bar from striker Dior Angus, who had one of his less productive afternoons. Moors were upping the tempo and created a few more set piece situations which, given the lack of physical threat in Barrow’s defence, might have proved fruitful. In truth, Moors struggled to test goalkeeper Tony McMillan, and came closest when Gary Birch headed over the bar from Jay Denny’s corner.
Barrow fired a couple of warning signs at the other end. Jas Singh had to deal with a snap shot from Liam Willis, and shortly afterwards, he was called upon to tip over Robbie Williams’s acrobatic effort.
But with the score at 1-0, the hosts had their best chance of the match, and one which could have changed the game. A high ball from captain Rob Elvins was chased down by Michael Taylor, who managed to find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his effort was diverted behind for another Moors corner.
It came as a surprise when Barrow doubled their lead. Shortly after the visitors moved to a 4-4-2 system, a cross from Niall Cowperthwaite was put away by Paddy Lacey, arriving in the box late from midfield. That goal killed the game off and led to a rather flat final quarter of an hour, enlivened only by a man running onto the pitch wearing a horse mask, in reference to the Grand National weekend.
It was a victory that Barrow deserved, as Solihull Moors failed to impress on this occasion. There were spells, particularly in the second half, when they put Barrow under pressure. Ultimately, it did not happen often enough, and when it did, they could not test the keeper. Barrow can take heart from their first half display, and their ability to remain organized in the second. As not the most physical side, they were able to withstand the aforementioned Moors pressure, and in possession they looked a lot more assured than the hosts.
The result does little to change the dynamics of either side’s season, as both clubs are in line for a midtable finish. Barrow end their winless run, and ahead of the summer, Darren Edmondson may be looking to use the remaining few games to assess his squad, which he inherited just four months ago. A poor run of form for Solihull Moors continues, as their promotion ambitions a few months ago seem a far cry from their current position, ten points off the play-offs. Marcus Bignot’s side have won just four games out of a possible seventeen since the turn of the year, and will be without key man Ryan Beswick until the end of the season.
Inevitably, going to watch a sixth tier team means seeing a sizeable drop in the standard of football – or a minor one if you’re a BirminghamCity fan. But by sacrificing that, you can get a day out watching a football match, where there’s change for a twenty pound note at the end. Furthermore, being able to stand or sit next to the pitch, hugely enhances the match-day experience.
£4.50 for any season ticket holder at a Midlands club is a more than reasonable price, so a game at the AutoTech stadium is always worth the trip.
Sports Radio Birmingham Correspondent