FA Trophy quarter-final preview: Solihull Moors v AFC Telford
‘Trust the process’ has become the mantra of AFC Telford United under Gavin Cowan – and his coaching process began at tomorrow’s opponents Solihull Moors.
Cowan’s fresh ideas have reinvigorated the Bucks, seeing them rise to fourth in National League North and reach the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy, writes Joe Edwards.
And, set to be backed by a superb travelling support of 750, they are aiming to upset the odds against the Moors, who Cowan is delighted to see flying high in the division above but desperate to knock out of the Trophy.
On his time at Damson Park as part of former Telford defender Marcus Bignot’s backroom team, while playing the odd game as they won the National North title in 2015/16, Cowan said: “It was a brilliant season.
“It was my transition, really, from a player to a coach.
“It was probably one of my most difficult seasons, to be honest because I always liked to be a big character in the dressing room.
“It was difficult to do that because you’re on the other side of it – ‘the dark side’ as they call it.
“It was a real transitional period for me, but it was made all the easier by the group of players that were there at the time. Obviously, we went on and won the league. That was a really big part of their history, and I was privileged to be a part of it.”
A couple of key players from that Solihull side are now important parts of Cowan’s Bucks team.
Defensive rock Theo Streete was the Moors’ skipper that year and has been one of the most consistent performers for Telford this campaign.
Playmaker Darryl Knights has worked with Cowan at both clubs too.
“They bring a lot of experience. I’ve seen their character as a player, and now as a manager,” said the Bucks chief.
“That brings a lot of benefits for me and they’re brilliant to have around.
“You need reliability and they have certainly shown that.”
Solihull have changed a bit since Cowan’s time there.
After promotion to non-league’s top tier, they managed to stave off relegation two seasons on the bounce under a part-time model.
They took the plunge and went full-time last summer and, with the help of fresh investment, have transformed from strugglers to title contenders – currently second, one point off leaders Wrexham.
“They’re big and physical from back to front,” added Cowan.
“They have got a lot of quality as well.
“That is probably the remedy you need to win that league, and I’d love to see them go on and do it.
“Obviously, I’d love to see them go out in the quarter-finals of the Trophy to us, to concentrate on the league.
“I’d love to see them win the league and, hopefully, they can kick into some form after we beat them.”
Adi Yussuf is the one to watch for Moors. He has scored three goals in four Trophy games for them.
Daniel Udoh is the dangerman for Telford, having chipped in with two goals in as many games in the competition.