A fine summers evening at Sphinx Drive was the setting for this friendly match between Coventry Sphinx and Conference North side Solihull Moors. This was the third friendly at Sphinx Drive this pre-season but the first on the main pitch and the first against higher ranked opposition. A decent turnout saw a strong Sphinx side take on a very youthful looking Solihull Moors team. The previous two friendlies saw 5-2 and 5-0 wins for Sphinx against Nuneaton Griff and Brinklow respectively but I was expecting a tougher test for them this evening.
Sphinx started with 9 regular starters from last season. Number 1 keeper Carl O’Neill started and was immediately called into action with a brave dive at the feet of the onrushing Solihull striker to prevent an early goal for the visitors. The first few minutes saw Sphinx gain a couple of corners which were delivered by Captain Ash Jackson but they came to nothing. Up the other end experienced defender Ash Wilks blocked a powerful Solihull shot with his body to keep the scores level after 10 minutes. The open start to the game soon resulted in a goal and in the 11th minute Sphinx took the lead. A fine cross was delivered into the box from the right and left midfielder GIO DAINTY was well placed to fire the ball home. A good piece of football got the scoring underway and I was anticipating more goals to come. Half way through the first half and Sphinx were clearly the better team. their sharp, incisive football was a delight to watch and Solihull were struggling to contain them.
The Sphinx dominance continued and the next chance saw the clearly fit again striker Luke Williams played through on goal with just the keeper to beat but the keeper saved well with his legs and the score remained 1-0. Luke Williams returned from a long term injury midway through last season and I suspect I never saw the best of him. Already I had seen a turn of pace from him that I hadn’t seen last season and I’m looking forward to seeing him back to his best. Williams was involved again, this time producing a terrific cross from the left that last season’s top scorer Rickie Cutting was inches away from. 5 minutes before half time saw Williams get his reward. An excellent run from Luke Downes through the middle was topped off with an excellent ball through the centre of the Solihull defence and WILLIAMS calmly slotted the ball home to get a well deserved goal. 2-0 to the Sphinx and there was time for another chance before half time with Williams again left with just the keeper to beat but shot straight at the keeper this time. Credit must go to Jackson for a fine run through midfield to set up the chance. HALF TIME COVENTRY SPHINX 2 SOLIHULL MOORS 0
Midfielder Baxter entered the field of play at the start of the second half and was the first of many substitutions for both sides. Just minutes into the half and another chance for Sphinx. Solihull were trying to play the ball out from the back and the sharp looking Luke Downes seized on the opportunity to steal the ball. His shot cannoned off the post and Solihull could consider themselves fortunate to still be in the game. It was far from one way traffic and around the hour mark Sphinx keeper O’Neill came out on top in a one on one with a Solihull striker. The game was becoming more even but Solihull were mainly restricted to long range efforts.
Sphinx’s high pressing game paid off again and this time resulted in a goal. Luke DOWNES capped a fine performance with a finish high into the net to make it 3-0. Just minutes later a youth team player got in on the act after the keeper had a rush of blood and was left stranded wide of the penalty area. 68 minutes gone and Sphinx were cruising at 4-0.
Both managers made full use of their substitutes which broke up the flow of the game. With just 7 minutes to go Solihull were awarded a clear penalty after a rash challenge which was promptly dispatched. Solihull pinched another goal at the death to give some respectability to the scoreline but make no mistake, Sphinx were convincing winners. Some good individual performances but most importantly an excellent team performance with some high quality football produced as well. I expect the Sphinx management will be pleased with what they saw tonight and as a season ticket holder I know I was pleased with the display!
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 4 SOLIHULL MOORS 2
Next game at Sphinx Drive will be on Saturday July 12th against Worcester City of the Conference North. Worcester are expected to send a strong side so why not come down to Sphinx Drive and take in the game