You couldn't ask for a more testing way to kick off an FA Cup campaign than a trip to Solihull. Two and a half weeks ago they beat us 1-0 in the league, a third consecutive defeat we've suffered on their patch.
That victory kick-started their season, and they've won both their subsequent matches, with King's Lynn on the wrong end of a 5-0 spanking. With a perfect home record of three wins with three clean sheets, the end of season wobble which saw them pick up just three wins from their last 18 games and slide out of the play-off places looks to have been put firmly behind them. While last season was clearly a missed opportunity - 5 more wins in that barren period and they'd have been champions, it's clear that the team has regained its rhythm and will be challengers again this season.
Their performance in their last match was particularly impressive. We know how tricky Boreham Wood can be after they made us work hard for our opening day victory; Solihull had the added problem of having to play against them with ten men for 70 minutes after Darren Carter received a second yellow card. However, they dug in and pulled off an impressive 1-0 win.
Their boldness was the most impressive aspect of the victory: rather than retreat into their shell, James Shan instructed his side to continue to be bold, switching from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3 and allowing his front three to remain in advanced positions.
They were a little more conservative after a half time reshuffle, but still pressed on and grabbed a 75th minute winner through Adam Rooney.
That match might have repercussions for our FA Cup tie. Injuries and suspensions could force Solihull into a reluctant change of shape: they've started every game this season with a back three, but Carter's suspension, while Alex Gudger hasn't played since he went off against Wrexham earlier this month. Jimmy Ball, the scorer in that match, and Stephen Gleeson also went off last Saturday, so a reshuffle could be on the cards.
We've played Solihull in a cup tie once before. In December 2012 we drew them in the second round of the FA Trophy, and it would turn out to be a very competitive fixture. We lost Rob Ogleby after 13 minutes to a nasty head injury, The Conference South side took the lead but Ogleby's replacement, Brett Ormerod, equalised on the stroke of half time.
Solihull weren't finished yet, though, and went ahead again in the 58th minute. Once more, Wrexham struck back swiftly. Adrian Cieslewicz equalised within 2 minutes, and 5 minutes after that Dean Keates celebrated his 100th Wrexham appearance by scoring the winner from the spot.
It was a superb battling performance by Solihull Moors, and a first introduction to how difficult they would be to overcome in subsequent years. As for Wrexham, having shown character to scrape through, we went on to win the trophy.
Our first match at Solihull was decided early on, as Anthony Barry hit the only goal from the penalty spot in the 7th minute.
We'd wait a long time before our next goal at Solihull, though. The following season the two sides fought out a turgid 0-0 draw..
In August 2018 we lost to a late goal as the Moors triumphed 1-0. Manny Smith picked up the serious injury which curtailed his career in that match, to make it a catastrophic day for us.
Brian Flynn was caretaker manager when we went to Damson Park last season, and we were 2-0 down at the break. If you haven't seen Jamie Reckord's screamer, you need to take a look!
We showed spirit in the second half, and when Bobby Grant pulled one back a draw was on the cards. However, a goal direct from a corner ended any hopes of avoiding defeat.
When we went to Solihull 4 games ago, we suffered a frustrating defeat. Despite having more of the ball, and putting the home side under intense pressure in the last half hour, a goal from a corner just after the break secured a 1-0 win for the hosts.
KEY CLASH: Rooney v. Vassell
Adam Rooney is a proven striker at higher levels than the National League. His signature for the 2018-19 season was a major coup for Salford City, and the 21 league goals in 34 starts propelled to promotion. A physical striker who, apart from his goal threat, holds the ball up well and is difficult to handle for central defenders as he backs in and pins them.
Wrexham would prefer to assign Fiacre Kelleher to pick him up, as his strength and aerial power mean he would hope to dominate him physically. However, Rooney is a canny customer and, like Nathan Blissett, the towering Maidenhead striker, will look to isolate Theo Vassell.
Vassell is not as big as Kelleher, but he has already shown he has the physicality to handle National League target men. His battle with Rooney could be vital.
HEAD TO HEAD
FORM v SOLIHULL MOORS: LWLWLDWWW
Last Match: 6/10/20 National League
Solihull Moors 1 (Ball 56) Wrexham 0
Solihull Moors R Boot, J Cranston, A Gudger (M Hancox, 70), T Williams, C Howe, D Carter, J Sbarra (C Maycock, 77), K Storer, J Ball (J Osborne, 89), S Gleeson, C Archer Subs not used: J Piggott, N Clayton
Wrexham R Lainton, F Kelleher, T Vassell, J Reckord, J Davies, J Harris (J Ponticelli, 83), P Rutherford (E Durrell, 77), R Hall-Johnson, L Young, K Thomas, J Bickerstaff (A Jeffrey, 59) Subs not used: M Carrington, C Dibble
Last Match: National League
03/03/20 Wealdstone 4 (Wakefield 15, Mendy 22, Dyer 57, Efete 63) Wrexham 3 (Okimo 16, Yussuf 18, 90+3)
R Lainton, T Vassell, J Reckord, F Kelleher, R Hall-Johnson, J Harris, L Young, P Rutherford (D Jarvis, 42), E Durrell, K Thomas, A Yussuf Subs not used: J Horsfield, D Redmond, J Davies, C Dibble
Last Match: National League
17/10/2020 Solihull Moors 1 (Rooney 75) Boreham Wood 0
Solihull Moors: R Boot, C Coxe, J Cranston, C Howe, T Williams, K Storer, D Carter (s/o 20), Jimmy Ball (M Hancox, 46), S Gleeson (C Maycock, 41), J Sbarra (C Archer, 86), A Rooney Subs not used: N Clayton, J Osborne
MILESTONES & STATS
Devonte Redmond, if selected, will make his 50th career appearance.
This Emirates FA Cup tie will be live-streamed in the UK only by the Moors, meaning you won't miss a minute of the action.
Live from Damson Park, we face-off for a place in the First Round Proper of this year's competition with revenue from the stream being split between both sides, as per the competition's regulations. That means not only will you enjoy live coverage of the Town, but support us in these difficult times as well.
Solihull have switched their streaming provider to InPlayer, which will be familiar to supporters who purchased a match-pass for our season opener against Boreham Wood - as it's the platform used for Wrexham home matches.
Your streaming pass will be priced at £10.00 and can be purchased by clicking here.
Please note, as this is an Emirates FA Cup tie, due to FA restrictions the viewing has to be 'geo-blocked' and will only be available to supporters in the UK - sorry!