Hednesford Town bowed out of the FA Trophy despite taking the lead in atrocious conditions at a wind battered, rain soaked Keys Park as Solihull Moors came back from a goal down to progress to the Second Round.
The Pitmen started encouragingly in the opening half hour and belied the gap in league position, snapping at the heels of Solihull in midfield and giving them no time to settle on the ball.
Neil Harvey saw his shot blocked by a defender during a scramble in the penalty area early on and following two corners which came to nothing they deservedly took the lead on 20 minutes when Dave MacPherson got a decisive touch to Harvey’s initial shot. Moors goalkeeper Jasbir Singh fumbled at a greasy ball and should have done more to keep the ball out of the corner.
Frustratingly, despite the positive start to the match, Hednesford paid for naïve defending twice in a matter of nine minutes and saw their lead disappear.
Solihull’s equaliser came when John Disney committed himself too easily on the right wing; Phil Midworth cut inside and measured a cross to the feet of Junior English who side footed past Dan Crane on 31 minutes.
The visitors’ second goal of the afternoon came nine minutes later and this time it was MacPherson who dived in in the centre of midfield, the loose ball was picked up by Omar Bogle who hit an unstoppable shot past Crane.
The home side pressed forward admirably in the second half for an equaliser in the driving rain but The Pitmen couldn’t quite force a second goal.
Francino Francis headed over from an Elliott Durrell corner on 50 minutes and Aaron Rey ghosted past three defenders and tested Jasbir Singh with twelve minutes to go.
Ben Bailey’s header was scrambled off the line and Michael Lennon stretched to poke wide a late Durrell cross but the Blue Square Conference North outfit celebrated a professional win and the sodden wet management, players and supporters left Keys Park at the final whistle no doubt relieved to find some cover and warmth.
The Pitmen’s FA Trophy campaign is now over but credit must go to the way they continued to give everything they had in difficult conditions to try to force a replay.
Rob Smith’s team, now nine points off top spot in the Evo Stik Northern Premier Division with three games in hand, following another win for leaders North Ferriby United against Ashton United, are left to concentrate on a league campaign, which, if this level of performance and commitment continues, will surely give themselves every chance of winning promotion to lock horns with Solihull again next season.
Crane, Disney (O’Connor 67), Campion (c), Bailey, Barnes, Francis, Osborne, Durrell, Harvey, Rey (Lennon 78), MacPherson (20) (Melbourne 67),
Subs Not Used
Singh, Midworth (c), Langdon, Denny, Pierpoint, Spencer, Knights, Fleet (Blackwood 79), English (31), Angus (Bennett 79), Bogle (40) (Clark 90),
Subs Not Used
HT Score – 1-2
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Star Man – Omar Bogle
Attendance – 355