Sphinx return from Worcestershire with a 2-1 win in the bag after a very good performance today. I made my way over to Alvechurch on a cool but bright spring day finding it hard to believe that the Midland Alliance fixtures were almost at an end. We arrived at the Lye Meadow ground to a warm welcome from our hosts and made ourselves at home outside the clubhouse with our drinks watching the players warm up. A great thing about watching football at this level is that you are treated like civilised people and can actually enjoy a drink at pitch-side and mix with the oppositions fans with no problems at all. It was also pleasing to see such a strong turnout from the Sphinx away support today.
The match got underway on a surprisingly hard and dusty pitch with Sphinx making just one change from last weeks defeat at Kirby Muxloe. Jackson Downie came back into the team in centre midfield in place of Ash Jackson who had suffered a nasty facial injury in the last match. Sphinx started the game well and were looking a threat and after just ten minutes were awarded a penalty. Regular spot kick taker Luke Williams stepped up to take it but the keeper went the right way and managed to save it to keep the scores level at 0-0. I hoped Sphinx would not regret missing a great opportunity to take an early lead. Just six minutes after the missed penalty, Sphinx found themselves a goal down. A ball was played through the Sphinx defence and the Alvechurch striker calmly stroked the ball past the exposed Sphinx keeper Carl O’Neill. 1-0 to Alvechurch but slightly against the run of play so I remained confident in the Sphinx getting a result. Sphinx continued to have the upper hand with Downie and Bilic in centre midfield winning their battles which allowed the wide players Luke Downes and Ashley Cain to have an impact on the game. The strikers Williams and Cutting were looking to combine well too and I felt it was only a matter of time before Sphinx got the deserved equaliser. On 29 minutes Sphinx got another chance with left back Fowler putting in a long throw which fell to Cutting in the six yard box which resulted in him shooting over the bar. Just minutes later Sphinx were awarded a free kick 25 yards out in a central position. Up stepped winger Ashley Cain who fired in a curling effort that looked to be flying over the bar but dipped at the last minute to crash against the cross bar with the Alvechurch keeper well beaten. The loose ball was put out for a corner and up stepped Ashley Cain again to swing in an excellent corner which fell to striker Rickie CUTTING who turned to fire home from close range. The goal was no more than Sphinx deserved after some excellent football and clearly delighted the numerous travelling fans. 1-1 after 34 minutes in what had been an enjoyable game. There was no let up from Sphinx after the equaliser and they continued to push for the lead with former Coventry City player Ashley Cain doing well to control a long range shot which the keeper comfortably saved. Shortly before half time Luke Downes produced a superb cross from the left with Fowler heading a good chance over the bar. Half Time arrived with Sphinx looking the better side and probably disappointed not to go into the break with the lead.
The second half got underway with the Sphinx support in good spirits after seeing a good first half performance from their team and were hoping for more of the same. Sphinx once again started on the front foot and were looking threatening in attacking areas. Alvechurch were struggling to seriously test the Sphinx keeper due to the combination of a well organised defence lead by former Coventry City academy player Rickie Fletcher and the excellent work from the Sphinx midfield to deny Alvechurch the time and space to play. In the 61st minute Sphinx took the lead with another accurate corner delivered by Cain which fell to Fletcher who was delighted to bundle the ball into the net. The Sphinx players wheeled away to celebrate in front of the Sphinx support and it was certainly a deserved lead. The match continued in similar fashion and with approximately 15 minutes remaining Sphinx Manager Luke Hopkins made a couple of changes with the youngster Drake deployed in a defensive midfield position replacing striker Luke Williams and defender Dyke replacing the energetic midfielder Downie. A sensible decision to get some fresh legs on and hopefully close the game out to secure the three points. It was great to see Ash Jackson come on for the last few minutes after requiring multiple stitches in a head wound last weekend. Alvechurch were exerting some pressure as time ran out but Sphinx defended resolutely to see out the game and secure the three points. FINAL SCORE: Alvechurch 1 Coventry Sphinx 2
Today’s Man of the Match had a lot of competition with O’Neill looking solid in goal, the defence performing well, the centre midfield pair were excellent, the wingers both had fine games and the two strikers looked in decent form too. My vote today goes to Adam Bilic who put in an impressive midfield performance. He dominated the centre of the pitch with his tackling, sharp passing, excellent runs and close ball control.
Sphinx cemented their place in the top six after this excellent away win and two wins from their last two games will ensure a top six finish to the season. The first of these games will be on Easter Monday at home. Kick off is 3pm at Sphinx Drive but with the game being a “Family Fun Day” there will be plenty going on before kick off. So get up there early and enjoy the Bouncy Castle, the Face Painting and the Junior football match prior to kick off. The adults will find a very welcoming and well stocked bar and can enjoy a friendly environment to watch Coventry Sphinx play fourth placed Coleshill in what promises to be a cracker of a game in their last home match of the season. Admission to the game is FREE with Coventry Sphinx asking you for a donation to a very worthy local charity instead. Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice will be the recipients of the donations made at this game.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: 1. O’NEILL 2. SULLIVAN 3. FOWLER 4. BILIC 5. FLETCHER 6. WILKS 7. CAIN 8. CUTTING 9. WILLIAMS 10. DOWNIE 11. DOWNES
Substitutes: DRAKE (on for Williams 76 mins), DYKE (on for Downie 78 mins), JACKSON (on for Fowler 88 mins)