Victory for Cheltenham in the final friendly of the summer.
Cheltenham Town produced a solid performance to beat Solihull Moors 2-1 this evening ahead of the season kick off this weekend.
A first half strike from Jeff Goulding got the ball rolling and a second half effort from Shaun Harrad claimed the game for the Robins but they did suffer a late scare when Junior English headed an 85th minute goal in and the Moors rallied late on. Cheltenham held on however to record a victory in the final friendly of the summer.
This evening's game kicked off on a cool evening in Solihull with Cheltenham Town looking to finish their pre-season in style ahead of next week's season opener against MK Dons in the cup. The Robins almost made a terrific start when Jeff Goulding produced a moment of individual magic to slip Zebroski through on goal but the frontman dragged his effort past the far post. Solihull did have a chance to open the scoring however when Jordan Hibbert brought down Junior English 20 yards from goal but Ryan Beswick's effort was inches over the bar. Mark Yates's men soon made their mark on the game and some very good wing work by Jermaine McGlashan allowed him to fire a low effort in at goal which was well saved by Singh in the Solihull goal but the ball was loose and Jeff Goulding made no mistake in smashing the ball into the back of the net for 1-0.
Efforts from McGlashan and Lowe threatened to double Cheltenham's lead but the Moors weren't afraid of getting stuck in and they could have had a decent effort on goal from Beswick but he was denied well by Elliott's frame. The match was surprisingly tasty with a number of strong challenges being made especially in the middle of the park. Mark Yates may have been wary with a physical battle just days before the start of the season but it was bringing the best out of a Russ Penn who was looking as sharp as ever in this pre-season.
Solihull Moors could have an equaliser late on in this half when English broke down the right wing and threaded a neat low cross across goal but Keith Lowe was quick to clear his lines with Gooding hovering on the goal line. Efforts for the home side were few and far between but Cheltenham took just a one goal lead in at the break and deservedly so.
Half Time: Solihull Moors 0-1 Cheltenham Town
Six changes were made to the Cheltenham Town team at half time with Bennett, Andrew, Deering, Graham, Duffy and Harrad all replacing Elliott, Jones, Penn, Mohamed, Goulding and Zebroski respectively. One of those changes, Sam Deering, almost had Cheltenham's second goal of the night with a chipped effort from 20 yards but Moors number one Singh tipped it over the bar. The resulting corner caused a few problems for the non-league hosts but Keith Lowe was unable to capitalise on some sloppy defending. Shaun Harrad had his first sniff at goal after ten minutes with a flick header effort from Andrew's freekick but it was too high and didn't trouble the keeper.
It didn't take the loan striker long to finally find the net for his new club but it was down to McGlashan that he found himself with the opportunity. Some trickery down the right wing allowed McGlashan a shot in at goal which was well saved by Singh but he could only push the ball into the path of Harrad and he made no mistake in slamming it into the back of the net to double the lead. Moments later and it could have been 3-0 when Bagasan Graham was set loose through on goal but the winger's was tackled well by Francis and denied the opportunity for a shot on goal.
Sido Jombati was introduced after 65 minutes and he took up the right wing role at the expense of the lively McGlashan. Solihull were playing decent football in midfield but their chances were becoming rare but Gooding had a great opportunity to hit the target but his run in to the box could only be finished with a shot into the side netting of Roberts' goal. In truth, Cheltenham were calmly in control of the fixture but the Moors could have pulled one back with a lovely freekick striking the crossbar from the foot of Knights. Bagasan Graham was forced off after 75 minutes with a facial injury and he was replaced by youth team midfielder Joe Hanks.
Former Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace striker Stern John made an appearance on 77 minutes as a substitute with the veteran forward trusted to break through a stubborn Robins defence of Hooman and Bennett. It was Cheltenham however that pushed on looking for a third goal and they almost got one when a Danny Andrew cross fell perfectly for Duffy but the Scot headed wide and was also flagged offside by the linesman.
Solihull grabbed a consolation goal on 85 minutes when Junior English rose well to head past Connor Roberts from a superb cross and it was a deserved goal with the Moors coming into the game more in the previous five minutes. There could have been an equaliser too had Knights capitalised on an Alan Bennett mistake but his effort was clawed away by Roberts.
The Robins held on despite Solihull rallying late on and full focus now turns to the new season and MK Dons in the Capital Cup.
Full Time: Solihull Moors 1-2 Cheltenham Town
Solihull Moors FC (4-4-2): Singh (GK); Francis, Broadhurst (C), Pierpoint (Farrell 62), Langdon; Knights, Gooding, Fleet (John 77), Beswick (Angus 59); Bennett (Hayden 35), English
Subs not used: Acton (GK)
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): Roberts (GK); Lowe, Hooman, Elliott (Bennett 46), Jones (Andrew 46); McGlashan (Jombati 65), Hibbert, Penn (Deering 46), Mohamed (Graham 46 (Hanks 75)); Zebroski (Harrad 46), Goulding (Duffy 46)
Subs not used: Brown (GK)
Referee: Mr. Rob Ellis
Robins Star Man: Jermaine McGlashan - The winger was a constant menace and he created both goals. Good performance.