Friday, October 15, 2021

Match preview - Hereford FC vs Solihull Moors

A return to FA Cup action for Hereford FC on Saturday, as they host Solihull Moors at Edgar Street in the final qualifying round of the competition, one round before it reaches the stage where Ronny Radford starts cropping up on the telly a lot. I don’t know if he gets royalties every time that goal is shown, like what happens with songs and singers, but if so he must be as loaded as Paul McCartney. I’ve just never heard that he owns an island or a private jet, and he certainly doesn’t wear large footballery diamond earstuds. Maybe he does when he’s on his island.

Anyway, with a decent crowd in, this is precisely the sort of game that Hereford United/FC have historically done well in, and even though Solihull are going well in the division above, I think the Bulls will win. There, I’ve said it. Having said that, given the start to the season, the decent crowd bit may be wishful thinking.

Solihull, it has to be said, are indeed going well in the National League NorthAndSouth, although it also has to be said that last time out they only beat Kings Lynn 1-0, which is very, very poor form, as the Linnets are abject, and will be back in the National League North next season, rivalling Leamington as divisional masters of ghastliness and cheatery. If that’s not a motivation for Hereford to get promoted, or indeed relegated, I don’t know what is.

Neil Ardley’s side have only lost one in their last eight, and not conceded in three matches. That said, they’ve recently played Wealdstone and Southend as well as Kings Lynn, three clubs some way short of being, er, any good. The longer that run of clean sheets goes of course, the less likely it is to continue – I’m sure that must be right as per the laws of probability or something.

Moors formed from a merging of Moor Green and Solihull Borough just 14 years ago, and have been playing at the top level of English non-league football since 2016. They narrowly missed ascending to the promised land of the Football League in 2018/19, finishing second and losing out in the play-offs.

Threats come from experienced striker Adam Rooney, and ex-West Brom midfielder Joe Sbarra, who has scored seven in 11 games this season.

As far as previous encounters are concerned, a win each in a couple of back-to-back pre-season friendlies last year were even more meaningless than PSF outcomes normally are, given that at the time everything was being messed about by Covid and the government’s measures to respond to it.

The Bulls go into the match struggling to get going in the league but with a growing indomitability in cup matches. Last weekend’s defeat at Darlington was disappointing, really disappointing, and the gap between the clubs who are going to be up there in the NLN in spring and Hereford FC, who on all available evidence so far are not, is growing.

Starting last week with Ben Pollock rather than Harry Pinchard, who this week signed a two-year contract to stay at Edgar Street, was an interesting decision from Josh Gowling if the latter was fully fit. Perhaps there was a feeling that Pollock, who seems to be well liked by the players and clearly has oodles of character, offered a bit of bite in the middle away from home.

With Reiss McNally unable to play in this one given that it’s parent club vs temporary club, Pollock could find himself partnering Levi Andoh at centre back if Krystian Pearce and Luke Haines are still out. It says a good deal about the showing Patrick Fini has made in recent games that his absence was sorely felt last Saturday. Hopefully he’ll make a return in this one on the left. Behind them, Brandon Hall looks likely to make a return in goal.

Perhaps if James Vincent is now fully fit he’ll be handed a start alongside Maz Kouhyar or Pinchard in the middle to belatedly show what he might be able to offer as a midfield general this season. He was billed as someone to bring a ‘winning mentality’ to the squad when he arrived – that’s certainly a quality that is currently much-needed by an underperforming Bulls squad.

Further up the pitch, there’s a lingering suspicion that Dan Smith is more likely to get goals against the sort of teams who are rapidly disappearing from the FA Cup rather than Saturday’s opponents, or more importantly against the week-in-week-out crème-de-la-crème of the north of England semi-professional football scene that is the NLN. However, it seems that the final ball is the issue, so maybe it’s a bit unfair blaming someone if they don’t get given a ball to put into the net.

So, as I say, this is a Hereford win all the way, giving some jet-propelled momentum going into the forthcoming league games, and a first round tie against the Slop in front of the BBC cameras.