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Tense end-to-end 2022 National League playoff final sees second promotion place sealed

A tense end-to-end 2022 National League playoff final sees the second promotion place sealed at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Just one game was all that stood between these Solihull Moors and Grimsby Town and the promise of the Football League.

Grimsby went into this looking to return to the EFL at the first time of asking whereas Solihull Moors have never played in the Football League before.

Grimsby ended the season in sixth place, a full 10 points behind 3rd place Solihull, and had to go to extra time to beat both Notts County and Wrexham away from home to get to the final.

Luke Waterfall netted a 119th-winner for the Mariners, who had beaten Notts County in extra-time in the playoff eliminator, then defeated their Welsh opposition 5-4.

Solihull meanwhile finished third in the league and beat Chesterfield 3-1 in their playoff semi-final.

For those who may not know too much about, Solihull Moors, they were founded in 2007 by the merger of Moor Green (founded in 1901) and Solihull Borough (founded in 1953).

Solihull Moors boss Neal Ardley, who led Notts County out against Harrogate behind closed doors at Wembley in 2020 and has managerial experience in the EFL, said before the game: “It’s funny because I was on the other side of the spectrum with Notts, as we looked to bounce back at the first time of asking while Harrogate had never been in the league before.

“Now I’ve got Grimsby trying to bounce back at the first time and I’m trying to take Solihull up for the first time. I’m hoping for a similar result that Harrogate got [3-1 win].

“It’s quite a unique little story and that’s what football is all about, little clubs like us and big ones like Grimsby.”

Grimsby chairman Jason Stockwood on BBC Radio Humberside:

“I feel a lot of love and affection for the town.

“We’re delighted to be here – we’ve put ourselves in a good position and we’ve got every chance.

“I don’t feel that nervous – it’s important you enjoy these moments and take them in, which I’m trying to do.”

Right then, enough chatting, here’s how the game played out…

2′ – Solihull got the game going and were passing the ball around nicely., winning an early corner.

3′ – Grimsby, who have a poor record at defending set-pieces this season, couldn’t clear the corner away and Moors defender Callum Howe eventually got on the ball, but the first time shot went off-target.

6′ – Solihull looked threatening on the counter with Winger Andrew Dallas beating his marker before driving into the box, though failed to get a pass away and the chance went begging.

8′ – A typically dangerous Grimsby long throw produces their first chance. Solihull’s Kyle Hudlin looked all lost in his own penalty area with the ball deflected off him and headed towards the bottom corner, though keeper Joe McDonnell was on hand down low to his right to keep it out.

10′ – Moors nearly went ahead as full-back James Clarke got in behind. But his low cross was hacked away. On the break the Mariners go forward, but Solihull was compact enough to stop their opponents’ from making a vital move.

11′ – Jordan Cropper gave the ball away in Grimsby’s final third, then took out Andrew Dallas as he went forward. No card issued, just a warning.

14′ – Grimsby living on the edge as Callum Howe rose highest to meet the corner and his header across goal went inches wide of the far post.

21′ – Grimsby went on the attack, getting free down the right and whipped the ball in, but Harry Clifton’s volley was eventually blocked by a wall of yellow.

23′ – Callum Maycock and Jordan Cropper clashed in the box after Cropper was brought down blatantly there, though the referee said no while there is no VAR to look at.

28′ – Solihull went on the break and it was danger man Andrew Dallas getting the ball, used his pace to go into the box, an unleashed a curler only for the ball to deflect off Cropper and with ex-Oxford keeper Max Crocombe getting a big hand to it to keep it goalless.

35′ – The ball fell to Grimsby’s John McAtee who played the ball on to Gavan Holohan, though his shot was blocked.

37′ – As McAtee played the ball, he was caught in the box by Kyle Storer, though confused reign over if the referee was playing advantage or was unaware. A second penalty for Grimsby turned down.

39′ – Erico Sousa got in behind for Grimsby, sent the ball across goal to meet Harry Clifton, yet somehow couldn’t tap it home and instead it went over the bar.

45+1′ – Harry Boyes chipped the ball over the top to Andrew Dallas who then crossed for striker Kyle Hudlin, out jumping Danny Amos, and thumped the ball into the far corner.

48′ – Grimsby started confidently with plenty of possession. They thought they had got an equaliser as Gavan Holohan curled a cutback goalwards. Clifton was ahead of the ball and stuck his boot out, deflecting it towards the corner, wrong-footing the keeper, and the effort goes wide.

51′ – A cross dropped to John McAtee who hit on the volley from range but it goes over the bar.

53′ – On the break, Andrew Dallas went clean through on goal, onside, but played was stopped immediately for a head injury, but to the anger of Solihull players. Solihull’s Hudlin and Grimsby’s Taylor were both down after clashing in the air.

57′ – Ryan Barnett crossed in from the right, but the Birmingham based outfit’s Andrew Dallas, who haD a free header, sent the ball well wide from close range.

64′- John McAtee a threat for Grimsby, running down the right before winning his side a corner through a deflected cross. Yet another Grimsby set-piece but still no goal.

69′ – Solihull couldn’t deal with a clearance, Andy Smith intercepted and the ball was played forward, substitute Jordan Maguire-Drew let it run through his legs and there was John McAtee through one-on-one. One touch into the bottom corner was all it took. 1-1. Game on.

71′ – Solihull with a penalty shout immediately after the restart with Luke Waterfall getting the wrong side of Andrew Dallas and went down in the box. The referee waved play on.

76′ – Solihull threatened on the counter with Ryan Barnett running clear but his pass to put Andrew Dallas through on goal was only just intercepted by Andy Smith.

77′ – Jordan Cropper brought Solihull’s Andrew Dallas down right on the edge of the box with a yellow card issued for Cropper. A huge free-kick in a great position for Solihull but was dealt with.

84′ – The ball was flicked on to Alex Gudger who had a free header, though his effort went over the bar.

87′ – John McAtee was inches away from sending Grimsby back into the EFL. Substitute Jordan Maguire-Drew was there in behind on the right, played the ball in a low cross, and on the slide McAtee poked the ball just wide of the far post.

88′ – Solihull mess up another counter

90+2′ – Grimsby’s turn to counter, led by Danny Amos, but the ball ricocheted off him for a Solihull goal kick.

93′ (ET) – Solihull started extra-time with the better of possession. Andrew Dallas did well and won his side a corner, though nothing came of it.

98′ (ET) – Joe Sbarra cut onto his right foot but saw his curling effort go straight at Grimsby keeper Max Crocombe.

102′(ET) – Jordan Maguire-Drew got in behind and tried to find a Grimsby man after a cutback, Solihull did well to get it out of the penalty area.

107′ (ET) – Second period of extra time again sees Solihull in possession and on top, chances for either side lacking as tiredness sets in.

110′ (ET) – Utter scenes in the Grimsby end as they watch their side take the lead for the first time in this game. Jordan Cropper’s long throw was flicked on by Solihull’s Andrew Dallas and Grimsby sub Jordan Maguire-Drew tucked the ball home at the back post, leaving the keeper standing still unable to do anything.

Attendance figures announced for this National League playoff final. There are 22,897 fans at London Stadium today.

FULL TIME – Solihull 1-2 Grimsby – The Mariners hold on to win promotion back to the EFL. What incredible scenes. The first team to finish 6th in the National League and go up. Grimsby bounce back to the EFL at the first attempt thanks to Jordan Maguire-Drew’s extra-time winner.

Gary Croft (Former Grimsby defender on BBC Radio Humberside): “Everyone’s got behind this project and it’s paid off. Who would’ve thought this team would have such team spirit. The effort and everything that’s gone on over the past few weeks has been colossal. These players deserve to be legends.”

Grimsby match-winner Jordan Maguire-Drew speaking to BT Sport: “It still hasn’t sunk in. It was just meant to be from the start. It was frustrating to be on the bench, you just have to make it count.

“I saw the ball flicked up and you’ve just got to gamble. Luckily I did.

“We never gave up, we are very together. The fans, the town, the group, everyone is together. I’m just buzzing.”

Grimsby goalscorer John McAtee speaking to BT Sport:

“You can see it for yourself what it means. For a fifth-tier football match that is mental.”

[On his equaliser]: “I’m buzzing. I shouted for the dummy but I didn’t think (Maguire-Drew) could hear me. I thought it was going wide.”

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