The long awaited first game of the Midland Football League Premier Division had arrived for Coventry Sphinx as they entertained the promoted Brocton. The weather wasn’t in a summery mood as heavy downpours affected the afternoon but it did serve to slicken up the excellent pitch a treat.
With Brocton being newcomers to the division it was difficult to know what to expect from them but having won their division to earn their place in this league it was never going to be easy. Sphinx boss Luke Hopkins went for a team with three new faces in it from last season. Curtis Shiels started at right back who was signed from Solihull Moors. Shiels is just 18 and looks a very promising signing. At left back we had the experienced 27 year old Jamie Coleman who was signed from Southam Utd and finally the youngster Jack Rooney got a well earned place in the centre of defence.
Within minutes of the kick off Sphinx were testing the Brocton defence with a long throw into the box that was headed wide. However, it didn’t take long for Brocton to get their first chance with a one on one situation dealt with by Sphinx keeper and vice captain Carl O’Neill. The game was very open and it looked like we were in for a few goals today. On 14 minutes Jackson Downie tried his luck from the edge of box after some neat footwork gave himself the opportunity but he pulled his effort wide of the post. The dangerous looking Ashley Cain got through the Brocton defence wide on the right and squared the ball to Luke Downes who in turn found Luke Williams. Williams, under pressure from the defender could only manage to shoot over the bar. Within minutes Cain was breaking away from the Brocton defence and from the by-line delivered a low cross. The defender slid across to block the cross and after a deflection off his leg the ball clearly struck his hand. Huge appeals from the Sphinx went unrewarded and Jackson shot over the bar to end the move. Two good corners quickly followed from the Sphinx’s Ashley Cain who was looking the biggest threat in the game up to now. On the half hour mark we had a stoppage for injury. Sphinx striker Luke Williams was helped off the pitch as he was struggling to bear any weight on his leg. It looked a fairly serious injury but he took his place on the bench to be replaced by new signing Chris Gumery who was signed from Coleshill Town. The 29 year old is a big no nonsense centre forward so he slotted straight in to his favoured position. The game continued with Cain again providing the impetus, this time cutting in from the left and unleashing a powerful shot that stung the hands of the Brocton keeper. Sphinx were getting the upper hand as the half wore on and Cain again outpaced the defence. He was forced wide, rounded the keeper and shot over the bar after doing all the hard work so well. Brocton were struggling to contain Cain and he was unsurprisingly hacked down which produced a yellow card for a Brocton defender. Just a minute before half time Sphinx got the goal their attacking play had deserved. The ball arrived at the feet of Luke DOWNES on the edge of the penalty box and he hit a tremendous low drive that left the keeper with no chance.
HALF TIME: Coventry Sphinx 1 Brocton 0
During the half time interval an ambulance arrived at Sphinx Drive. Striker Luke Williams was stretchered to the waiting ambulance with what appeared to be a leg injury. I wish him well and sincerely hope he makes a speedy recovery.
The second half was underway and within minutes Brocton were level. It was a decent finish by Fife but one that Sphinx would have been disappointed to concede so soon after half time. The disappointment wasn’t to last long as almost immediately Sphinx were back in front. Cain hit the post from distance and the rebound came to Cain again who forced the keeper to parry it into the path of DAINTY who drove the ball home. 4 minutes into the second half and we had seen two goals to leave the score at 2-1 to Coventry Sphinx. The game was extremely entertaining and was becoming end to end stuff. On 56 minutes Brocton got their second equaliser. They got in down the right and the ball was cut back to be calmly finished by Lomas into the Sphinx net. 2-2. Just after the hour mark substitute Gumery was played through and was denied by a fine save by the Brocton keeper. 18 year old striker Nathaniel McKenzie joined the field as Sphinx went looking for the winner. The chances continued to come and left back Coleman played a great ball down the line to feed Cain who produced a cross that Gumery met to force another save from the Brocton keeper Barrett. A minute later a Sphinx corner led to a shot from Jackson from the edge of the box that was put out for another corner. That corner resulted in a fine header from McKenzie that was tipped over the bar. Sphinx were cranking up the pressure and Brocton had their keeper to thank for keeping them in the game. With time almost up Sphinx won yet another corner. This was dispatched into the net by Jamie Coleman but was inexplicably ruled out by the referee for an apparent foul. In the final minute the Brocton keeper was at it again with a great double save from Downes and Cain.
A superb performance from Barrett in the Brocton goal got his team a point in the face of severe pressure from the Sphinx. No doubt Sphinx will be disappointed at not starting the season with 3 points but there were plenty of positives to build on. New left back Jamie Coleman was excellent. Strong defensively and good distribution as well. There was a solid captains performance from Ash Jackson in the centre of the park too. The youngster Jack Rooney played very well in the centre of defence. However, my Man of the Match goes to Ashley Cain. He was always a threat to Brocton with his pace, he produced some excellent crosses and dead ball deliveries and can consider himself unlucky not to get on the score sheet today.
CAUSEWAY UNITED HOME Mon 4th Aug 7.45pm
QUORN Away Sat 9th Aug 3.00pm
SHEPSHED DYNAMO HOME Mon 11th Aug 7.45pm