Kirby Muxloe was the venue for today’s fixture and we arrived to a decent clubhouse facility situated just to the South West of Leicester. Mid April and with both teams having nothing to play for other than pride, it was still a game I was looking forward to. Sphinx went into the game making four changes from the team that were beaten at Sphinx Drive by AFC Wulfrunians. Both full backs Dyke and Hill were replaced by Sullivan and Fowler, defensive midfielder Ash Jackson returned in place of Baxter and winger Ashley Cain returned to the starting line up after a suspension to replace Dainty. Sphinx started the match well enough to give me optimism for a positive result and not much of consequence happened until the 17th minute when a potentially game changing incident occurred. A loose high ball in midfield was contested by a Kirby Muxloe and a Sphinx player. As the players went up for the ball, I could see the Kirby player was leading with his elbow. I heard the impact of the elbow smacking into Sphinx’s Ash Jackson’s head from my position on the other side of the pitch. As expected, Jackson hit the ground in a heap and seemed to be in a bit of trouble. Jackson was forced to leave the pitch with a nasty gash and swelling above the eye. He played no further part in the game and had to be replaced by Baxter. The guilty player however was allowed to continue due to not receiving the Red Card his blatant elbow deserved. Jackson is an important player for Sphinx in his midfield role and his loss was a blow. Just 8 minutes later Kirby Muxloe took the lead with a low cross into the box from the by-line that was turned into the net. Kirby Muxloe 1 Coventry Sphinx 0 in what I thought had been a fairly even game. Minutes later Sphinx won a corner that was taken short to a quick thinking Luke Downes, he returned it to Cain who put in an excellent cross that was headed just over. Sphinx enjoyed a spell of pressure with successive corners which ended with a Kirby counter attack that saw them hit the bar. Sphinx were unable to get an equaliser so we went into the half time break with the score Kirby Muxloe 1 Coventry Sphinx 0.
Sphinx started the second half with the upper hand and just 7 minutes in they had a goal disallowed. A deep free kick was delivered into the box by Ashley Cain, the keeper came out to punch the ball clear but failed to do so which resulted in the ball ending up in the net. No clear foul from my view but the referee disallowed the goal. It was the old “you can’t breath on the keeper rule” coming into play. Frustrating to see that disallowed when earlier in the match it was deemed acceptable to elbow a gash into a players eyebrow that required numerous stitches. Sphinx continued to apply pressure on the Kirby goal without getting any clear cut chances. The Kirby keeper was struggling to deal with the crosses coming into the box but Sphinx were unable to take advantage. Jackson Downie joined the play for Adam Bilic just after the hour mark and Sphinx were still well in this game. The Sphinx players were starting to let the Referee’s poor performance distract them and on 79 minutes a poor back pass resulted in a poor clearance which Kirby were quick to seize on and increase their lead to 2-0. You sensed this could be game over and in the 88th minute Kirby Muxloe wrapped up the points after another piece of poor defending allowed them to get a third. A hugely disappointing 3-0 defeat for Sphinx. Granted, they were not at their best today and didn’t do enough to win but the 3-0 score-line was still a touch harsh. It could have been so much different if the Referee had issued the Red Card in the early stages for a clear elbow or the disallowed Sphinx equalising goal had stood. Some key decisions didn’t go their way but it would be wrong to use that as an excuse. Sphinx have three games to go this season and they will want to show their supporters they are better than they showed today so I’m looking forward to seeing the three games which hopefully will secure enough points to get them a top six finish. Whatever the final league position of Sphinx, it will be a big improvement on last seasons 14th place finish so they are certainly going in the right direction. The Sphinx lads have been a pleasure to support this season and regardless of the final results I am proud to call them my team.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: 1. O’NEILL 2. SULLIVAN 3. FOWLER 4. FLETCHER 5. WILKS 6. BILIC 7. CAIN 8. CUTTING 9. WILLIAMS 10. JACKSON 11. DOWNES
Substitutes: BAXTER (on for Jackson 18 mins), DOWNIE (on for Bilic 62 mins)
REMAINING COVENTRY SPHINX FIXTURES:
ALVECHURCH Saturday 19th April 3pm Away
COLESHILL Monday 21st April 3pm HOME
WESTFIELDS Saturday 26th April 3pm Away