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The Coasters are back in action on home turf this weekend, as attention turns to Saturday’s 3pm kick-off at Mill Farm against play-off chasing Solihull Moors, in the Vanarama National League.

The West Midlands outfit make the trip to face Jim Bentley’s side having picked up two defeats and one victory since the appointment of former West Bromwich Albion caretaker boss James Shan, with the Coasters having been edged out by Notts County in Tuesday night’s home clash. In a period in this National League season in which the large majority of sides have struggled for consistency, Solihull head into the weekend’s encounter in the final available play-off place, level on 54 points with three fellow competitors. With the league proving remarkably close as just eight points separate the top three and the bottom half, every point is as crucial for the visitors as it is for Bentley’s Coasters as we battle to close the gap towards safety.

After the amalgamation of Moor Green and Solihull Borough in 2007, Solihull Moors was formed. Playing their home matches at the Stadium, the Midlanders began their adventure in the National League North, winning the title of the English sixth tier in the 2015/16 campaign under the management of Marcus Bignot. Following two steady consolidation seasons culminating in 16th and 18th-placed finishes, Solihull excelled hugely in 2018/19, finishing second in the National League just three points off the summit. It would be the Coasters to travel to take on the Moors in last May’s play-off semi-final, with Danny Philliskirk’s decisive early winner giving us passage to the Wembley final.

Solihull have two remaining ever-present players so far during their league season, with goalkeeper Ryan Boot the last line of the division’s joint-best defence, conceding an average of just one goal per game. The 25-year-old spent his younger years at Port Vale, racking up 23 league appearances before a series of loan spells to gain further experience. The stopper moved across the Midlands to the Stadium in 2018. The second player to have played every match this term thus far, and who has contributed significantly in both boxes, is central defender Callum Howe. The Scunthorpe United academy graduate has scored four goals from the back this season, after arriving on a reported club-record sale by Harrogate Town last summer. Turning 26 next month, Howe lists Lincoln City and Port Vale as his other previous clubs. Top scorer Jamey Osborne is doubtful for the away side, with seven goals in 25 league appearances this term, but former Premier League veteran Darren Carter could feature, back at his hometown club having starred in midfield for the likes of Birmingham City, West Brom and Preston North End during his career. Striker Jake Beesley, formerly of Salford City and Chesterfield, will be looking to net his first goals since New Year’s Day for the Moors.

James Shan took over as manager of Solihull just three weeks ago, shortly after departing neighbours Kidderminster Harriers. An up-and-coming coach at the age of 41, Shan carries more experience than would meet the eye, working through the youth ranks at West Brom from under-7s all the way through to the first team coaching staff – even taking charge of Albion on an interim basis. Having also worked in the academy setup at Birmingham City, Shan is making a name for himself in the senior management game, and will look to get off to the best possible start by securing a top-seven berth for his new club come the end of the season.

The Coasters have previously enjoyed six wins over Solihull Moors, with Saturday’s visitors claiming four, including November’s reverse fixture by a 3-1 scoreline. We were victorious in the three meetings prior to this season, of course including May’s play-off semi-final success and National League wins home and away. Here Jim Bentley’s men look to make it four out of five, seeking that elusive return to winning ways.