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Dartford v Solihull Moors

One cup dream ended last weekend and a new one begins when Dartford host Conference North club Solihull Moors in the F.A Trophy first round.

The Darts have never played this weekend’s opponents, formed by the merger of Moor Green and Solihull Borough, but regularly came up against Moor Green in the Southern League Premier between 1988 and 1992. Under Peter Taylor, the Darts won three including a 5-1 victory and drew the other meeting. Bob Makin took over for the 1990/91 season and over the next two campaigns both sides won two each. Further fixtures with Moor Green were denied when Dartford went to the wall in 1992, the Darts were also due to play Solihull Borough that season, who had just won the Southern League Midlands division.

Last Sunday, Dartford’s day at Valley Parade proved too difficult as League One side Bradford City showed their superiority. On ten minutes Billy Clarke scrambled in the first from Jon Stead’s cross. Clarke had numerous chances before Stead himself made it 2-0 with his outstretched leg getting on the end of another low cross. The Darts rallied before the break but went in at half time two down in front of a large away following.

By the hour mark Bradford City were way out of sight, Filipe Morais lingered on the edge of the box from a corner and hit a long range effort past Jason Brown with the aid of a deflection, a minute later Mark Yeates curled in the Bantams fourth. Dartford fans had something to cheer on 64 minutes, Lee Noble’s cheeky back heel made it 4-1 with one of the goals of the second round.

Dartford can be excused for a fifth successive defeat against a side 59 places above them in the football pyramid, however four consecutive league losses has put the club under pressure. The third cup tie in a week is a welcome distraction and a run in the F.A Trophy could restore some confidence. Currently eight places above Solihull Moors in a league above, the Darts will desperately want to avoid an upset, a feat they managed to achieve in the F.A Cup first round against Bromley.

Tony Burman has lacked options up front with Tom Bradbrook the only out and out striker on a permanent contract. The Dartford boss has brought in Bradley Tarbuck on loan who has only made substitute appearances so far. In the build up to the F.A Cup tie, Burman hinted that Harry Crawford may return from injury which will be a boost to the Darts strike-force.

Last term Dartford were eliminated at this stage against Forest Green Rovers, so would rather look for inspiration from the squad of two years ago. The Darts reached the semi-final and were one step away from a trip to Wembley for only the second time in the club’s history. Instead the F.A Trophy final of 1974 remains the only Wembley appearance for Dartford as they finished runners up to Morecambe.

Solihull Moors were only formed seven years ago when Moor Green opted to merge with Solihull Borough. The fledgling club emerged from disaster and the charity between two local rivals. Moor Green’s home at Moorlands suffered a fire in 2005 and so they spent two years sharing at Solihull Borough’s Damson Park. The cost to rebuild Moorlands was too much and in order for Moor Green to survive the directors deemed a merger with a local club was imperative, which happened in 2007. Solihull Moors were created and took Moor Green’s place in the Conference North where they have remained to the present day.

The Moors have steadily improved since their introduction at step six from bottom half finishes to top half finishes. The West Midlands outfit are pushing for their best ever league campaign and currently occupy the final playoff place. Under Marcus Bignot, Solihull Moors are enjoying a great run of form losing just once in their last 13 league games, this after picking up just four points in the opening six matches. October was particularly a productive match with four wins from five as Bignot picked up Manager of the Month.

Top scorers in the Conference North and the second best away record Solihull Moors are full of confidence. However, on Saturday the Moors threw away a three goal lead at home to ten men Lowestoft Town. Ryan Beswick headed the West Midlanders ahead with his seventh league goal of the season and Reece Fleet made it 2-0. Goalkeeper, Ashlee Jones was dismissed when he conceded a penalty, prolific striker Omar Bogle picked himself up and scored a third for Solihull Moors. The visitors started their recovery just before half time when Rossi Jarvis scored a free kick and early in the second half the deficit was reduced to one, thanks to Jack Ainsley. On the hour the equaliser arrived  courtesy of Jake Reed and despite having a man advantage the Moors struggled to create chances to win.

The player who has grabbed Conference North headlines is Solihull Moors striker Bogle. The club’s top scorer with 19 goals last term was called up for England C international duty and netted in their 4-2 win over Estonia. The former Birmingham City and Glasgow Celtic academy player has already found the net 15 times this term in the Conference North and heads the goalscoring chart.

Darren Byfield will be a familiar name in the Moors squad, the 38 year old started out at Aston Villa and enjoyed a Football League career with Walsall, Rotherham United, Gillingham and Millwall to name but a few. The striker was part of the relegated Tamworth team last season and has six international caps for Jamaica.

Dartford’s opponents entered the F.A Trophy just a fortnight ago in the third qualifying round. A home tie against Southern League Premier side Redditch United had the hosts soaking up pressure to earn a 2-1 win. Solihull Moors took a two goal lead when an own goal put them ahead in the first half. Beswick scored on the hour from close range following up Liam Daly’s rebound and when Redditch United pulled one back, the Moors held on for a narrow 2-1 victory.

Current Form (* – F.A Cup / ** – F.A Trophy)

Dartford (LLLLLD) Solihull Moors (DWWLWW)
Bradford City*  A  1-4 Lowestoft Town  H  3-3
Eastleigh  A  0-2 Redditch United**  H  2-1
Forest Green Rovers  A  1-2 Gainsborough Trinity  H  2-0
Chester  H  2-4 Guiseley  A  0-3
Lincoln City  A  0-1 Bradford Park Avenue  A  3-2
Southport  H  1-1 Hyde  H  3-0

(*excludes County Cup)

F.A Trophy Performances Last Ten Years

FAT Solihull

 

 

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