Wrexham return to league action a full 16 days after the excellent victory at Eastleigh, keen to keep the pressure on Notts County.
While the teams either side of us prepare for back-to-back matches against opponents in the relegation zone, Wrexham face opponents who have serious ambitions to reach the Football League.
The Red Dragons will head into the match in good form, though, off the back of a 15-game unbeaten run. Last Wednesday's 3-1 FA Trophy win over Scunthorpe illustrated the strength in depth available to Phil Parkinson, with a number of players getting minutes under their belts just in time for the rigours of a festive double-header.
Solihull Moors, meanwhile, know they need to show their quality over the next two games as they won't want to lose any more ground on the promotion favourites. The Moors will be disappointed to go into the final game of 2022 in 7th place. They took the promotion play-off final to extra-time against Grimsby Town last season, and strengthened the squad judiciously in the Summer, as well as managing to hold off interest in the consistently impressive Joe Sbarra.
However, their position is a little misleading: if they win their game in hand over the sides directly above them, they'll leap to 5th place.
Like the rest of the division, the recent cold snap enforced a mini-break on Solihull, but they returned to action last Tuesday with a 2-0 home win over AFC Telford United in the FA Trophy.
Before the unscheduled hiatus, Solihull enjoyed a 2-1 home win over Oldham Athletic, which stopped a worryng run of results. They lost their previous three league games, and had been eliminated from the FA Cup, although they could hold their heads up after leading League Two Hartlepool United in the final minute of a replay in the north-east. However, the hosts grabbed a last gasp equaliser and squeaked through on penalties.
It's surprising to see the Moors on the fringes of the play-off spots, as their Summer transfer window went extremely well. A series of impressive signings were added to the core of the squad which has been consistently challenging for promotion over the last few seasons. Ex-Wrexham stopper Fiacre Kelleher arrived from Bradford City; another former Red Dragon, Alex Reid, arrived on loan from Stockport having scored 36 goals in 87 starts at this level; Josh Kelly, Maidenhead United's top scorer last season, who topped a superb performance against Wrexham with the winning goal in Rob and Ryan's first live experience of a Red Dragons game, also signed; and Callum Whelan, a Manchester United youth graduate with Football League experience, was an interesting midfield addition.
Yet things haven't quite gone as planned. The Moors lost 7 league games last season, but have already been beaten 6 times in this campaign. There are clear reasons for the Moors' frustrating results in the last few weeks. Firstly, Reid's loan was terminated by Stockport so they could move him on to Oldham Athletic, which was a considerable blow as the striker was maintaining his impressive National League strike rate. Seven goals in 17 league games, only 10 of which were starts, made him an integral part of the Moors' attack, especially as a series of niggling injuries have compromised Andy Dallas' pitch time, even though he's still managed an admirable 9 goals.
Key defender Callum Howe has missed games through injury too, and manager Neal Ardley's rotation of his squad, particularly the switching of established keeper Ryan Boot and Wolves loanee Louie Moulden, has drawn criticism from some quarters.
HEAD-TO-HEADWrexham are on an incredible run of 13 consecutive league home wins, stretching back to last April: the third longest sequence in our history, and the equal best since we joined the Football League in 1921.
Continuing that run won’t be easy against the last side to emerge from The Racecourse with a point.
Those dropped points came 8 months ago, and Wrexham felt frustrated to miss out on the win. Solihull started superbly, but The Red Dragons weathered the storm and took control of the game. However, they were frustrated by a superb performance by Moors keeper Ryan Boot and a couple of massive decisions which didn't go their way: what looked like a clear penalty after Max Cleworth was pulled down wasn't given, and the home team were frustrated when Joe Sbarra received a yellow card for an overhead kick which caught Luke Young in the head as he jumped for a header.
Their frustration multiplied when the excellent Sbarra opened the scoring in the 56th minute by tucking away the rebound after Christian Dibble had made an excellent save to deny his initial shot – the third goal he’d put past Wrexham last season. However, we were only behind for two minutes before Ollie Palmer equalised.
The last half hour saw Wrexham push hard for a winner, but a combination of wasteful finishing, determined defending and one last fine save from Boot denied them.
That result put an end to our perfect home record against The Moors, as a series of 6 previous tightly-contested matches at The Racecourse - we’ve only beaten them by more than one goal once- had all gone our way.
The only time we enjoyed a little breathing space against The Moors was in December 2020, when Omari Patrick and James Jennings struck in the first half of a 2-0 win.
In May 2021 we triumphed in a game of three penalties. Luke Young scored twice from the spot in a 5-minute spell either side of the half hour, but a late spot kick by Adam Rooney ensured a nervous final 9 minutes.
In both December 2018 and November 2017 we enjoyed identical outcomes, as Paul Rutherford scored the only goal on both occasions. Rutherford was a fine servant of the club, but hardly a prolific scorer: those two goals meant that, over 199 appearances for Wrexham, he scored a quarter of his goals for Wrexham against Solihull Moors!
Ben Tozer's 450th league appearance.
Jacob Mendy's 125th league appearance.