Report by Bradley Rice.
Solihull United were comfortably beaten by fourth placed Feckenham last weekend and head coach Sam Manoochehri is eyeing a strong reaction this Saturday.
Manoochehri’s men lost 3-0 away to the Millers as Solihull’s youngsters found it difficult to find any rhythm or tempo against a much senior outfit.
On home soil against Boldmere S&S Falcons this weekend, Manoochehri wants his lads to revert to the football that has earned them top spot in Midland Football League Division Two.
“We’re at home so I will be looking for the lads to play football, we didn’t play any football last Saturday,” he said.
“One because of the magnitude of the game, and two because of the conditions, it was really difficult so I want to see us get the ball down and play this weekend.
“We need to get back to what we do well and prove why we have been top of the league for so long. At home on our turf, that’s what I want to see.”
Feckenham were deserved winners on the day as Solihull came unstuck against a physical team with a significant aerial threat.
After a goalless first half, three set-pieces saw the Millers to victory. Free headers from Danny Murphy and Jamie Hatfield put the hosts into a commanding two goal lead.
A fine Jake Donnelly free-kick rounded off the scoring and Manoochehri points to the manner of defeat as a clear indicator as to where his side needs to improve.
“It was a massive learning curve, this is exactly why we put the lads in this league for these type of games, where the conditions and the pitch aren’t great,” he said.
“Feckenham used that to their advantage, we must have faced twenty plus set-pieces on Saturday.
“It’s a tactic that is not prevalent in academies so it’s a great experience and although they were comfortably beaten, it’s only going to help our lads moving forward.”
Manoochehri admits that it is difficult to prepare for the rigours of non-league football but there is no room for excuses and it is a case of learning quickly game by game.
“The issue we have is we can’t re-create those situations in training,” he said. “We don’t have the players with that experience and that know how.
“We did work on it in the lead up to the game but it’s a case of learning on the job for the boys.
“When they are facing these men at times, they are potentially going up against opponents twice the lads age.
“Just being able to judge the flight of the ball, the experience of knowing where the ball is going to go, where it’s going to land and anticipating things.
“Obviously we are at a disadvantage, given our age and experiences, but it’s something we are going to continue to work on as we always do.”
After last Saturday’s loss to Feckenham, rivals Knowle moved to within a point of Solihull at the top of the league and Manoochehri knows how vital it is to string a run of wins together.
“We’ve got five home games coming up now, back to back, so we have a massive 15-point swing over the next four weeks,” he said.
“So it’s massively important this Saturday to win and then for me we should be looking to win all five of those home games.
“We need to score maximum points if we stand any chance of getting promoted this season.”