Express & Star

Pre-season: Solihull Moors 0-2 Walsall - Report

New recruit Danny Johnson netted on his first Walsall outing as they finished pre-season with a 2-0 victory at National League side Solihull Moors.


Johnson's signing on a six-month loan from League Two rivals Mansfield Town was only announced a couple of hours before kick-off, and the attacker wasted no time to make an impression.

He struck from close range to put Michael Flynn's Saddlers ahead before half-time at Damson Park.

After he went off on the hour mark, fellow centre-forward Andy Williams made sure of the victory with a composed finish.

Solihull Moors v Walsall (Owen Russell)

Flynn will be pleased with the showing against Moors given they reached last season's National League play-off final – losing 2-1 to Grimsby Town at the London Stadium.

A debut strike for Johnson should also stand him in good stead, especially as he is yet to train with the squad and this outing was his first proper interaction with them.

Johnson – who previously enjoyed a potent partnership with the Saddlers' Conor Wilkinson at Leyton Orient – went straight into the starting line-up after being snapped up from Mansfield.

The 29-year-old partnered veteran Williams up front in a 3-5-2 formation.

Young trialist Jonas Mukuna was on the bench. Timmy Abraham – who had featured in all the previous pre-season friendlies – was not present.

Moors knocked on the door in the early stages.

Brandon Comley gave away a free-kick and from that, centre-half Callum Howe headed into the hands of Walsall keeper Owen Evans.

Solihull Moors v Walsall (Owen Russell)

A sharper save was then required from Evans to deny Callum Maycock's low strike at his near post.

The first half an hour of the clash was fairly low key.

The Saddlers had struggled to stamp their mark, although a pretty even affair was to be expected given just how close Moors got to reaching the Football League last campaign.

Another attack from the hosts saw a trialist's effort from the edge of the box tipped over the crossbar.

Walsall took a while to get going, but they began to grow in confidence towards the interval.

Skipper Donervon Daniels surged forward from defence and played a neat through-ball to Johnson, whose attempted cross was blocked.

Johnson said upon signing he was a 'poacher' and that he backs himself if given the necessary service in and around the box. Those predatory instincts were on display as he put the Saddlers ahead.

Solihull Moors v Walsall (Owen Russell)

Taylor Allen – one of the standout performers over pre-season – got to the byline and his clever cut-back to the edge of the six-yard area was prodded home by the debutant, showing exactly why Flynn has brought him in.

Walsall threatened to add a second before the break but Allen was denied a certain goal as Wolves loanee Louie Moulden made a fine save to keep him at bay.

The Saddlers switched to a back four for the beginning of the second period as Flynn continues to assess which formation is best for the side in the long run.

Manny Monthe went to left-back while Allen moved to more of a central midfield role.

They went close to doubling their advantage on a couple of occasions shortly after the restart.

The first saw Isaac Hutchinson take a touch before unleashing a left-footed rocket that sailed wide. He almost got an assist minutes later as a lovely cross was met by Johnson, whose effort on the stretch flew off target.

Walsall took the opportunity to freshen things up on the hour mark as Flynn made five substitutions at once.

Second-choice shot-stopper Adam Przybek, Liam Bennett, Ronan Maher, Flynn Clarke and Douglas James-Taylor all came on.

James-Taylor was involved as the Saddlers eventually made it 2-0.

His flick on was latched upon by Williams, with the experienced centre-forward timing his run to perfection before coolly slotting the ball beyond the onrushing Moulden.

That was Williams' third goal of pre-season and proved to be his final action as trialist Mukuna took his place for the last 15 minutes.

Solihull Moors v Walsall (Owen Russell)

Walsall were forced to finish the game with 10 men as, having made all their subs, Allen walked off with a knock late on.

Alex Reid hit the woodwork as the home side tried to grab a goal right at the death.

Ultimately, the Saddlers were able to see it out with the clean sheet intact and end the summer schedule on a positive note ahead of next weekend's season-opener against Hartlepool United at Bescot.


Moors (3-5-2): Moulden; Kelleher, Howe (c) (Osborne, 46), Gudger; Clarke (Barnett, 46), Trialist B, Jones (Kelly, 46), Maycock, Trialist A; Sbarra, Reid

Not used: Myatt (gk), Howell, Owen, Wood

Walsall (3-5-2):Evans (Przybek, 63); Daniels, P Clarke, Monthe (Bennett, 63); White (F Clarke, 63), Kinsella, Comley, Hutchinson (Maher, 63), Allen; Williams (Mukuna, 75), Johnson (James-Taylor, 63)

Goals: Johnson (38), Williams (74)

Attendance: 785