A tough test was ahead of Coventry Sphinx today as they made the trip to Tividale to take on the Midland Alliance league leaders. Tividale were suffering with some serious fixture congestion and I was hoping Sphinx could take advantage. Sphinx went into the game with an unchanged outfield ten and a debut for young keeper Jack Farthing. However, shortly before kick off they were forced into a change with forward Luke Williams replacing captain Ash Jackson in the starting line up. As a result, Adam Bilic took the captain’s armband. Not the ideal preparation for Sphinx but one I was confident they could overcome.
The game got underway in perfect conditions for football with cloudy skies, little wind and mild temperatures. After just 5 minutes Tividale were forced to make a substitution after their left back suffered quite a nasty head injury after an accidental clash of heads. Quite a scrappy start to the game with both teams working hard to compete with Sphinx’s best chances coming from set pieces. Tividale were starting to get some spells of pressure mid way through the first half which resulted in a save from the young Sphinx keeper, Jack Farthing, which any keeper would have been proud of. A powerful shot came in which was heading for the top corner of the net but the Sphinx keeper had other ideas. With a brilliant demonstration of reactions and agility he pulled off a tremendous save which drew applause from all areas of the ground. As good a save as I’m likely to see for a long time. That seemed to galvanise Sphinx and shortly after they produced a goal of high quality. Dyke received the ball in the right back position and after weighing up his options he sent a great ball over the top of the Tividale defence for Luke Downes who did well to lay the ball back to Luke WILLIAMS. He released a powerful shot that the Tividale keeper got a hand to but couldn’t prevent the ball going into the net. Sphinx go 1-0 up in the 24th minute slightly against the run of play but much to the delight of the travelling support. The goal lifted Sphinx and a great touch from Williams into Luke Downes path resulted in a good shot that was tipped round the post by the Tividale keeper. Sphinx were well in this game now and a corner led to Williams shooting over the bar. Tividale were looking to equalise before half time but Sphinx were defending well. Just before the half time whistle, a strongly hit cross came in and found its way into the top corner of the net. My fellow supporter insisted it was a brilliant shot but I’m not so sure! We argued about it all the way home without resolution, it was a goal, that was the main thing! Half Time: Tividale 1 Coventry Sphinx 1
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first half with both teams clearly after the three points. Clear chances were at a premium largely thanks to the good defensive work from both sides. The Sphinx manager made his first substitution on 67 minutes with striker Rickie Cutting coming on for young midfielder Jackson Downie. Straight away Cutting was buzzing around as we’ve come to expect, working hard to defend from the front and always looking for a run in on goal. Just two minutes after coming on he got his reward. A set piece was delivered into the box and after the Tividale defence failed to clear, there was CUTTING to poke home from close range on 69 minutes. 2-1 to Sphinx away to the league leaders. Could Sphinx get the win with the inevitable pressure that would come their way from the home side? Sphinx don’t do ‘holding on’ though and just a minute after taking the lead, Cutting was shooting just wide of the post. Sphinx then made a second substitution with striker Luke Williams making way for defender Matt Fowler. A defensive move you would think but Fowler was deployed in a centre forward role. Tividale were going all out for the equaliser but they were struggling to break down a well organised Sphinx side who looked more than capable of getting a third goal if the chance presented itself. We entered the last ten minutes and I was getting nervous with Sphinx on the verge of a huge win. Tividale were running out of time but just as the 90 minutes were up, a cross was delivered into the box and to the disappointment of the Sphinx support and players, it ended up in the net. Tividale equalise at the death to make it 2-2. A few minutes of injury time were played and the game ended with the points shared. A fair result in the end but Sphinx will probably feel it’s two points dropped after going so close to securing an impressive victory. Away to the league leaders I would have taken a point before the game so I wasn’t too disappointed at the result. Once again, Sphinx have demonstrated they can go toe to toe with the very best in this division and I left the ground proud of the lads performance as I usually do.
Man of the Match: Always a tough job with this Sphinx side. The team ethic of these lads is a joy to watch and it’s always a difficult choice. The defence were excellent again, the midfield worked incredibly hard and the strikers stuck the ball in the net. However, my choice is for the Sphinx keeper, Jack Farthing. Making his debut, the young keeper displayed confidence and was loud and clear in his communication. His handling of crosses was good and he pulled off a tremendous save that was as important as any goal.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: 1. FARTHING 2. DAINTY 3. HILL 4. FLETCHER 5. DYKE 6. WILLIAMS 7. BILIC 8. BAXTER 9. WILKS 10 DOWNIE 11. DOWNES Substitutes: CUTTING (on for Downie 67 mins), FOWLER (on for Williams 70 mins)
FORTHCOMING COVENTRY SPHINX FIXTURES:
AFC WULFRUNIANS Monday 7th April 7.45pm HOME
KIRBY MUXLOE Saturday 12th April 3.00pm Away