St John’s Rangers ran out as 2-1 winners against Solihull Moors Adults on Saturday (4th December), advancing to the quarter finals in the County Cup.
In what was a hot-tempered affair, goals from Aiden Twist and John Fitzibbon gave the Meriden-based side a two-goal cushion at half-time.
However, Moors initiated a potential comeback, scoring in only the second minute of the second half. But a gritty, defensive performance by St. John’s was enough to hold out the visitors and avoid taking the game to extra time.
Play was also paused in the sixth minute to take part in the nationwide commemoration of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, who tragically passed away last year.
Solihull Moors Adults tweeted after the game: “We would like to commend St. John’s Rangers and the referee for allowing play to come to a halt on the 6th minute. Rest in Peace, Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.”
Despite the Moors (Division 1) being two divisions above St. John’s Rangers (Division 3) in the Birmingham and District League, it was a tightly contested affair.
Indeed, it was St. John’s Stuart Joy who nearly opened the scoring on the 11th minute, with the Solihull Moors keeper having to save Joy’s low curling shot.
Twist was the player who would eventually break the deadlock just before the half hour mark after rising above the Moors defense to head home and make it 1-0.
St. John’s then doubled their lead thanks to striker, Fitzibbon in the 33rd minute. A brilliant run and cross from Conor Richard-Higgs on the left wing freed up the space for St John’s number nine to tap in and increase his side’s lead.
This did not stop Solihull Moors’ efforts however, with the south-east Birmingham side responding immediately when the second half whistle went.
Number 8’s pass got around the onrushing Karl Buttle to make life easier for Number 11 who smashed the Moors’ first goal into an empty net.
After that goal, the pressure increased on the home side and 10 minutes later Moors came ever-so close to an equalizer. Solihull’s right back (Number 2) kicked a thunderous strike outside the box only to hit the crossbar, leaving Buttle rooted to the spot.
Despite the visitors having numerous other chances, including the 71st and 73rd minutes where Twist and Dale Challender had to make goal line clearances, St. John’s could’ve ended the match with three goals.
Playmaker Lewis Rouse lead a counterattack in the 90th minute with acres of space after most of the Moors went up for a corner. However, he was denied by an instinctive leg save from the Solihull keeper.
St. John’s Rangers will now wait to see who their Quarter-Final opponents will be in the Saturday Amateur Cup.