Solihull Moors 0-1 FC Halifax Town
Adam Morgan marked his first start of the season by scoring the winner as FC Halifax Town recorded their first victory of the season at Solihull Moors.
It was another game of two halves from Halifax, who deservedly led at half-time before Solihull came out fighting after the interval and should have cancelled out Morgan’s opener, but Sam Johnson saved Oladapo Afolayan’s penalty.
It wasn’t comfortable viewing in the second-half as Solihull spurned some good chances, but Halifax gritted their teeth and held on to a three points that could now kick-start their season.
Morgan started for the first time since Chorley on the last day of the regular 2016-17 season, with his inclusion something of a statement of intent from Billy Heath, who deployed a 4-4-2 with two out-and-out wingers.
The atmosphere was eerily quiet, reminiscent of Ashton Athletic last season, but Town started in the manner characteristic of a Heath side, hassling and harrying the opposition and biting into tackles.
An error by Jordan Liburd let in Josh Macdonald - rewarded with a start for his impressive cameo on Tuesday - but the winger saw his first shot saved by Nathan Vaughan before his second was blocked with the keeper stranded.
Darren Carter’s shot rolled just the wrong side of the post via a deflection midway through a first-half that failed to come to life, with both teams struggling to find a tempo to their play.
The likes of Matty Kosylo and Morgan looked lively in glimpses, while Tom Denton was dominant aerially, but both teams were sloppy in possession, and neither dominated early on.
But Kosylo found some space on the left and used it superbly, skilfully beating his man near the goal-line before cutting the ball back for Morgan to sweep in a low finish left-footed near the penalty spot for his first goal since March 21.
After waiting six hours for a goal, Town had now scored two in 30 minutes of football.
That goal seemed to act as a spur for Halifax, who looked more assured and confident on the ball, while Solihulls heads appeared to drop after falling behind.
Afolayan brought a smart save from Johnson - not for the last time - shortly before the interval - by which point Martin Riley, who had replaced calf injury victim Scott Garner, was forced off injured too - but Solihull were offering little going forward.
Denton’s imaginative diving header was straight at Vaughan, with a second goal looking like it could already put Town out of reach.
Solihull were gifted a glorious chance to equalise just after the restart when Matty Brown was harshly adjudged to have fouled Afolayan in the box, but Johnson guessed the right way to save the striker’s penalty before a goalmouth scramble ensued.
Shepherd Murombedzi then drilled a shot wide from 25 yards before Afolayan headed wide, with the hosts playing with more urgency and purpose since half-time.
The pressure increased as Murombedzi’s shot rolled just wide before a corner was headed narrowly over by Joel Kettle.
Halifax had lost their rhythm of the first-half, and were being forced to sit back and preserve what looked a fragile lead.
Kristain Green should have headed in Carter’s sumptuous cross to the far post as Heath looked an increasingly worried man; even the Town players not involved sitting in front of the press bench could hardly bear to watch at times as the Halifax defence creaked under the strain.
The creaked but they didn’t buckle, with the likes of Matty Brown and Cliff Moyo excellent in repelling the tide to ensure there was no repeat of Dover four days on, but they had to dig deep.
Solihull: Vaughan, Green, Kettle, Dunkley (Benbow 66, Edwards 87)), Liburd, Carline, Kelleher, Carter, Murombedzi (Green 87), Campbell, Afolayan. Subs not used: Tonks, Cleary.
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 9
Halifax: Johnson, Moyo, Brown, Riley (McManus 42), Wilde, Macdonald (Charles 60), Lynch, Oliver, Kosylo, Morgan (Dixon 69), Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Tomlinson.
Scorer: Morgan (28)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 2
Referee: Joe Hull
Town man of the match: Sam Johnson