BY the end it felt Witton Albion were further than ever from the first round.

Theirs was a subdued exit from this season’s FA Cup, although the credit for that belongs to Solihull Moors.

In short, they were too good.

More than their skill or strength, Tim Flowers’ side had exactly the attitude a higher-ranked side needed to avoid embarrassment.

They progressed more comfortably than Carl Macauley will have liked, but in a way a team close to 60 places above their opponents ought to.

The National League outfit scored towards the end of each half, on both occasions when Witton’s physical and emotional reserves had all but been depleted.

In between, there wasn’t much to get excited by and Albion’s single shot on target is indicative of how they were kept at arm’s length.

However reflections on the Northwich club’s run should be wholly positive.

Remember, only once previously have they even played in a qualifier at this stage since 1995.

After three wins, two of those against rivals from a level above, it’s been a job well done.

They were restricted to glimpses at goal on Saturday.

Rob Hopley drifted into a space behind Solihull’s back-line to reach goalkeeper Greg Hall’s deep free-kick, but his shot lacked the force to trouble Ryan Boot.

Hope raised further when Delial Brewster burst into the penalty area before his low cross was smuggled away from danger.

It looked a strategy likely to cause discomfort for the visitors, but too often Albion surrendered possession cheaply after they had grafted to take it.

Jordan Murphy’s low drive was easy for Hall to stop, while striker Adi Yussuf fizzed one attempt across the face of goal before slicing off-target from another.

He was more accurate at the third attempt though, using the pace of Tyrone Williams’ perfectly-flighted cross to steer a downward header into the corner off an upright.

There was only six minutes until the interval.

Albion conjured a chance when Danny McKenna spotted Hopley’s run, and the captain’s cut-back from the by-line was prodded by a late-arriving Brewster against a recovering defender.

The hosts toiled to run up a head of steam after the interval, and instead were grateful for Hall’s intervention when he parried Kyle Storer’s dipping volley.

He was alert as well to help Luke Maxwell’s shot around an upright after Solihull retained possession.

Albion’s number one was called into action again on 66 minutes to block Liam Daly’s header after Maxwell’s set-piece reached the defender at the back-post.

Solihull could coast to the finish-line after moving further ahead with time running out.

Murphy’s corner reached Storer, who nudged the ball on to Daly.

He took one touch to steady himself, and a second to rifle an unstoppable shot out of Hall’s reach.

It was emphatic and, judging by his celebrations, a surprise too.

Solihull’s reward is to reach the competition proper for a third successive season.

Witton, for now, must wait a little longer.

Witton | 4-3-1-2 | Hall (GK), Gardner, Humphreys, Wardle, Devine, McKenna, Cesaire, Foley, Brewster (Booth 63), Jones, Hopley Subs not used Wilson, Yates, Shane Williams, Moore (GK) Booked Humphreys, Cesaire, Wardle (all fouls)

Solihull | 4-2-3-1 | Boot (GK), Tyrone Williams, Daly, Gudger (Flowers 62), Reckford, Storer, Maxwell, Thomas (Wright 66), Murphy, Hylton, Yussuf (O’Keeffe 86) Subs not used Osborne, Carter, Carline Goals Yussuf 39, Daly 82 Booked Murphy (foul), Gudger (kicking the ball away), Daly (time-wasting)

Referee Sam Barrott

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