In the spotlight: Solihull Moors

Fact File

Full Name: Solihull Moors Football Club

Year Formed: 2007

Nickname: The Moors

Stadium: Damson Park

Capacity: 5,500

2021/22 Finish: Third in the National League

Review of the 2021/22 season

Solihull Moors had a slightly indifferent start to the 2021/22 season with a mixture of wins, draws and defeats. After a 5-1 loss away at Dagenham & Redbridge, the Moors started to embark in mini resurgence as their season started to pick up pace. A first round FA Cup defeatto Wigan Athletic and a pair of defeats to Notts County and Chesterfield looked to slow down that momentum. However, Neal Ardley’s side quickly put that behind them, but they were midtable by the turn of the year. A 2-1 defeat to Bromley lit a fire under Solihull and they went on a 16-game unbeaten run that ended at the hands of Stockport. That result put a stop to their faint title ambitions, but a strong end of the season cemented a third-place finish. Chesterfield travelled to the ARMCO Arena for the play-off semi-final and the home side came away with a strong 3-1 victory. However, Solihull fell at the final hurdle as Grimsby Town won the final 2-1 to secure promotion to the Football League.

Manager – Neal Ardley

Since Neal Ardley entered management, he has usually built a squad that has been tough to beat no matter who you are. He won promotion during his time with AFC Wimbledon – winning the League Two play-offs in 2016. The former midfielder became Notts County manager in 2018 and he couldn’t keep the Magpies in the Football League as they suffered relegation 2019. County suffered defeat in the National League play-off final the following season after a 3-1 defeat to Harrogate Town at Wembley. Oddly, Ardley was dismissed in March 2021 with Notts a game away from the FA Trophy final and in a healthy position to reach the play-offs. The 49-year-old joined Solihull Moors just before the start of the 2021/22 season. It was a wildly successful one for the Moors but they fell at the last step, losing 2-1 to Grimsby Town in the most recent play-off final.

Star Player – Joe Sbarra

Joe Sbarra has become one of the National League’s most threatening players since arriving permanently in 2020. He started his professional career with Burton Albion and played almost 50 times for the club in both the Championship and League One. The midfielder also had a loan spell at Solihull Moors in the 2018/19 season – playing jus six times in a short stint. Sbarra re-joined the Birmingham based club in 2020 and immediately showed his worth. He scored eight times in 39 games as the club finished in 11th place. The 23-year-old made another 48 appearances last season and scored 17 times in a largely successful campaign as Neal Ardley’s side lost in the play-off final. Sbarra signed a new contract over the summer amid interest from EFL sides.

Joe Sbarra

Overall Head-to-head Record

P9   W2   D2   L5

Chesterfield have somewhat struggled against Solihull Moors since joining the National League in 2018. Last season, the Spireites came away from the first fixture with all three points; goals from Alex Whittle and Kabongo Tshimanga were enough to take the points from the ARMCO Arena. However, Solihull won the other two meetings – one 3-2 win at the Technique Stadium and a 3-1 victory in the play-off semi-finals.

Played for both – Tyrone Williams

Tyrone Williams has history with both sides. In fact, he joined Chesterfield from Solihull Moors in November of last year. However, he moved to Solihull in January 2018 after spending five years with Kidderminster Harriers. Immediately the defender became a fan favourite in his native Birmingham as the Moors started to become a force to be reckoned with in the fifth tier. In just over three years at the ARMCO Arena, Williams played 125 times for the club and also scoring five goals in the process. The 27-year-old made the moved to north Derbyshire last year and played 22 times for the Spireites as they reached the National League play-offs.