Match Report -
Storming Second Half Performance not quite enough
By Iain Benson

Despite a storming second half comeback after inspired substitutions, Celtic couldn’t paper over the cracks of a lacklustre first half performance that saw them concede two.

Solihull were good for their first half two goal lead, attacking from the off, with Ryan Beswick twice getting into a position to score, only troubling Matty Urwin once with a header off a fine cross from Michael Blackwood, the other time going wide when it looked easier to score. A fingertip save from man-of-the-match Urwin followed after Jay Denny fired in a free kick. Celtic couldn’t hold out and another good cross from Blackwood came flying across at a good height, a slight deflection taking it away from Urwin for Ryan Beswick to touch home from close range.

Celtic were guilty of overplaying without product at times, and sometimes in inappropriate areas, such as a clearance across the box instead of out of it that left Omar Bogle with the ball at his feet at the corner of the box. Bogle produced a stunning finish, curling the ball up and over Urwin and in at the far post. Celtic could have no complaints, Solihull had just looked stronger all over the park. And it could have been three just before the interval, with Urwin having to deny Denny’s fairly tame effort.

Something had to change, and just after half time, Celtic replaced Oscar Durning and Conal Platt with Obi Anorou and Joel Bemo-Leta, switching to two up front. It paid immediate dividends. Bembo-Leta’s strength held off Rob Elvins so that he could lay the ball into the path of Anorou, who finished superbly giving Jasbir Singh no chance.

Solihull looked shaken for all of a minute before coming back strongly, Wint forcing Urwin into a good save, flying across to his left to palm the ball away, the loose ball landed at Beswick’s feet but Urwin was there, and superbly got back to his feet to deny Beswick. At the other end, Singh was equally on his toes as Mark Lees traded passes with Greg Wilkinson before unleashing a thunderous shot that Singh had to palm not catch. From the corner, Solihull struggled to clear the ball eventually coming to Sean McConville who fired straight back in, with Singh in the right place to catch in his midriff. Joel Bembo-Leta placed a header straight at Singh before Callum Warburton’s free kick again tested Singh’s positioning.

Celtic were looking the stronger of the two teams as the half wore on, and it was somewhat against the run of play that Moors broke, Beswick lifting in a cross that just wasn’t dealt with and Stuart Pierpoint put his head on it, and guided it past Urwin.

Greg Wilkinson tried a trademark thirty-yard effort that proved Singh was alert, before a perfectly weighted thru-ball from Wilkinson freed Anorou, one-on-one with Singh, he made no mistake, rolling it confidently into the far corner.

Celtic didn’t have much time to look or the equaliser, just a couple of minutes, but went looking anyway, leaving just Kelvin Bleau and Andy McWilliams back this allowed Solihull a couple of breakaways, but Bleau and McWilliams dealt with them, although Reece Fleet’s effort had to be tipped away by Urwin at the expense of a corner that gave Solihull a chance to run a bit of the clock down, and take all three points back to Damson Park.

1Singh, Jasbir  
2Nottingham, Mike  
3Gough, Jordan  
4Denny, Jay  
5Elvins, Rob  
6Pierpoint, StuartYellow Card 
7Till, Peter  
8Fleet, Reece  
9Bogle, Omar  > 45
10Beswick, RyanYellow Card > 83
11Blackwood, MichaelYellow Card > 73
12Knights, Darryl  < 83
14English, Junior  < 73
15Taylor, Michael  
16Wint, Aron  < 45
17Birley, Matthew  
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