Solihull Moors and Oldham Athletic both return to National League football for the first time in three weeks when they meet at Damson Park on gameweek 23.
Latics narrowly edged past Mickleover in the third round of the FA Trophy last weekend after a shootout was needed to decide who advanced following a frantic 3-3 draw that played out in 90 minutes. Both Mathew Hudson and Mark Kitching were decisive in the shootout that saw Latics through.
The win means Latics will return to Boundary Park for FA Trophy action in January when they welcome Southern Premier League South side Hendon. A rather lengthy break without league football meanwhile will see Latics kick off a hectic remainder of December where they will play four games in 20 days to see out the year.
The trip to Solihull will provide an opportunity for Micky Mellon’s side to avoid successive National League defeats, a disappointing 4-1 loss to Ebbsfleet United at Boundary Park will have left a sour taste for a side who will be raring for a way to bounce back.
A good recent record on the road meanwhile could provide confidence for Mellon’s men, Latics have won three of their last four away in the National League whilst a win on Saturday would see Latics win three consecutive league games away from home for the first time in over three years dating back to when the club were in League Two.
Solihull meanwhile would have enjoyed their 2-0 win at National League North leaders Scunthorpe United in the FA Trophy which provided a brief break from their recent rut of league form.
Jack Stevens and Josh Kelly helped see the National League side cruise to a comfortable victory on the road which saw them safely through to the fourth round where they will face Nantwich Town in the second week of the new year.
It was a much-needed win for a side who have struggled for form in recent weeks which has seen Solihull lose their last three consecutive league games. Their last triumph came in a 2-1 win at Dagenham & Redbridge, where Kelly’s effort early in the second half completed a swift turnaround after trailing for just a minute.
Perhaps a return to their previous intensity will be high on the agenda, their 6-1 loss at Altrincham in their last league outing will have provoked concerns from the Solihull faithful who will be desperate to see their side return to the form they showed early in the campaign.
Their recent struggles are new this season, Solihull initially began the campaign in splendid form which saw them go unbeaten in their first 14 fixtures to kick off 23/24 including a seven-game run at home, though they have lost two of their last three at Damson Park.
Their win against Latics earlier on in the campaign will inspire belief in this Solihull side, whilst a win would see them climb back up towards the back of Barnet who they have lost touch with in recent weeks. A continuation of dropped points is a dangerous thought for Solihull, who will surely be aware of the tight pack chasing playoff football behind them.
Latics must be on their toes this weekend against a forward who is in a strong vein of form this season. Solihull’s Kelly has been a dangerous proposition for any National League side to deal with, his 10 goals in league action prove just that.
Four accurate efforts in his last seven appearances in all competitions combines a good player who is high on confidence, whilst Mellon must ensure his team are aware of Kelly at Damson Park where he has scored in three of the last five fixtures there, two of the occasions being in wins.
The numbers speak for themselves, though it is his excellent movement and composure in front of goal that make him such a tricky forward to contain. Two instances against Wealdstone and Rochdale highlight his willingness to get in behind, whilst his calmness before striking makes it seem as though he is a 30-year-old veteran.
Kelly’s sharp bursts and turns have certainly caught defences by surprise, against Rochdale it was his anticipation that created the opportunity latching onto a direct pass before delightfully dinking into the net. Latics will have their hands full with a 24-year-old who is hungry for more in front of goal.
In the dugout
Andy Whing has had an impressive start to National League life considering it being just the second professional role of his career as manager. A turbulent opening to life in the hot seat at Banbury United saw his time at the club limited to just last season.
Despite this Whing was able to secure safety in his only season at a club who had won the Southern Football League Premier Division Central in dominant fashion the season prior to his arrival, securing a 17th-place finish before departing for Solihull.
The 39-year-old meanwhile has begun life well at Damson Park, winning 11 of his first 24 fixtures in charge at the club and has steered the club to fourth position on the stroke of the halfway mark of the season.
Whing oversaw his side go without a defeat in their opening 14 National League games this season, which included a 2-0 win at Boundary Park over Latics, though the Solihull boss will be keen to see his men return to form after a brief spell of poor form in recent weeks.
He will be wary of a side who are in good form on the road and desperate to keep touch with the playoff chasing pack, though improvements in performance and intensity will be a top priority for Whing who seeks a return to winning form.
The game will kick off at 15:00pm at Damson Park on Saturday 15th December.
The referee will be David Richardson who will be accompanied by assistants Matt Eva and Antony Smith. The fourth official will be Neil Pratt.
Match coverage and information
Live audio commentary is available on Latics Player, guiding you through the match.
Alternatively, supporters can also follow the game with live updates on the club's official Twitter account: @OfficialOAFC
As this game is being played within the blocked broadcast hours stipulated by UEFA, live streaming will not be available through National League TV for supporters in the UK. The game will be available overseas.
As always, we will endeavour to ensure confirmation of the line-up is published as soon as possible.
However, supporters should note that team sheets in the National League are exchanged 15 minutes later than in the EFL and as a result, the line-up is likely to be published slightly later than in previous seasons.