York City fight back to earn 1-1 draw at promotion contenders Solihull Moors

·5-min read
York City striker Lenell John-Lewis celebrates his goal. Picture: Tom Poole
York City striker Lenell John-Lewis celebrates his goal. Picture: Tom Poole

YORK City fought from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw at last season’s Vanarama National League beaten play-off finalists Solihull Moors.

Substitute Alex Reid put Solihull in front just shy of the hour mark after Solihull had struck the post and had a goal disallowed in the first half.

York were well in the contest throughout and got the goal their efforts merited when in-form Lenell John-Lewis swept in less than 10 minutes later.

After dropping points in a 2-1 loss to relegation favourites Maidstone United last time out, this was a much welcome return to form from City and much more like the convincing 2-0 win over Woking on the opening day.

Although they gained just one point rather than three, one could argue this was a better display, given the calibre of the opposition.

Solihull have finished in the National League top three in two of the last three completed seasons, have only lost one of their last 25 regular season matches and are unbeaten at home since December, when beaten by reigning fifth-tier champions Stockport County.

For City to have competed so well and been able to rue not coming away victorious, having bettered the shot count, is testament to how high manager John Askey sets his standards.

This was a York side not at full strength either, with five players out injured, including centre back Adam Crookes, who dropped out after rolling his ankle on the infamous 3G surface at Maidstone.

Fraser Kerr came in for his first York City start as a result while Sam Sanders was promoted to the bench.

It was Kerr’s centre-back partner, Maxim Kouogun, who was tested early on by the threatening Solihull attack.

Joe Sbarra latched onto a through ball in the box past Kouogun and the number seven dispatched the ball expertly past Ethan Ross into the bottom right corner but saw the offside flag raised by the assistant referee.

After the opening quarter of an hour, York consistently found themselves over-ran in midfield and Moors looked increasingly likely to find an opener.

City’s rare bright spark was Maziar Kouhyar, as he so often is. The winger had a low header well stopped inside the first two minutes while later in the half, the Afghanistan international beat a couple of markers before his drive was saved by Louie Moulden’s legs.

Midway through the half, the hosts went a step closer to breaking the deadlock as a poor Kouogun header lost York possession and led to right-back James Clarke drifting into the box and rattling a shot against the bottom of the far post. City had failed to heed the warning sign of Sbarra’s disallowed goal and may well have gone behind had it not been a defender in the shooting position.

With that said, there was no huge margin between the newly-promoted Minstermen and last season’s beaten play-off finalists Moors.

Mitch Hancox’s 20-yard thunderbolt forced Moulden into a fine diving save while Kouhyar’s corner somehow went through a crowd of bodies without a decisive touch.

Solihull finished the half the stronger as City’s frustrations were summed up by a trio of yellow cards, given to Alex Hurst, Ryan Fallowfield and manager John Askey.

A scramble in the box ended in Andrew Dallas shooting at Ross while the number nine also dragged poorly wide from a Sbarra cut-back.

Moors were unable to carry on that momentum into the early stages of the second as an early Ryan Burnett injury killed their flow.

City began the better as John-Lewis had an early saved sighter before Olly Dyson’s blocked effort fell to Hancox who stung the palms of Moulden.

A sucker-blow was soon delivered though as Solihull showed their clinal nature in attack.

Sbarra intercepted in midfield and released Dallas on the left side whose cross inside was inch-perfect for Reid, fresh off the bench, for the substitute to tap into the goal from close range.

York’s response was perfect though and after the dangerous Kouhyar had a shot blocked, the winger crossed delightfully for John-Lewis who swept in his eighth goal from his last 10 matches.

The striker almost had a second when the captain did brilliantly to get a shot off from an awkward pass before ensuring Moulden had to be at his best to keep his effort out.

Solihull had a late chance through sub Connor Parsons, with Ross’ legs denying him.

York pushed on in the dying stages without making clear-cut chances and found themselves unlucky not to have pushed on to find a winner.

Solihull: Moulden, Clarke, Coker, Howe (C), Sbarra (Parsons 76’), Maycock, Dallas, Osborne, Barnett, Kelly (Reid 53’), Kelleher.

Subs not used: McNally, Vaughan, Whelan.

Goals: Reid (57’)

Yellow cards: Parsons

York: Ross 7, Fallowfield 7, Kouogun 7, Kerr 6, Whittle 7, Pybus 7 (Burgess 84’), Dyson 8, Hancox 7, Kouhyar 8, Hurst 7 (Duku 89’), John-Lewis 8 (C).

Subs not used: Whitley, Sanders, Boden.

Goals: John-Lewis (65’)

Yellow cards: Hurst, Fallowfield, Askey, Dyson, Hancox

York’s star man: Olly Dyson. Brought energy all night in central midfield and is making the role his own after his previous utility man tag.

Referee: Paul Marsden

Attendance: 1,125 (199)

Shots (on target): 11 (5) | 15 (7)

Corners: 4 | 5

Fouls committed: 12 | 7

Offsides: 3 | 1