Sphinx returned to their home ground after a disappointing defeat at a decent Quorn side. It was important they responded in the right way and the boss Luke Hopkins made changes to the side in an attempt to achieve that. Four players came into the team today and they were Matt Taylor, Nathaniel McKenzie, Kyle Baxter and Chris Gumery. Taylor replaced Shiels at right back, McKenzie replaced Muldoon on the right of midfield, fit again Baxter replaced Bilic in midfield and Gumery provided the focal point up front in place of Downie. As well as these four changes we also saw Captain Ashley Jackson return to his central midfield position after a stint at left back and Gio Dainty went to left back after playing further forward on Saturday. A lot of changes made and not just in personnel but in formation and tactics.
A decent crowd were gathering before kick-off including a good following from Shepshed Dynamo. Sphinx needed to start the game well and that’s exactly what they did. As early as the third minute they were awarded a free kick just inside the opposition half on the right hand side. A superb delivery from Ashley Cain followed and Jackson came flying in at the far post to head just over the bar. A decent start got even better for the Sphinx when centre forward GUMERY rose to head home in the seventh minute. 1-0 Sphinx and a perfect start. We didn’t have to wait long for the second either when GUMERY again scored with a lovely finish past the keeper. 2-0 with just 14 minutes on the clock. Sphinx had started the game well but Shepshed Dynamo were by no means out of the game. Around the twenty minute mark they had a spell of pressure but they were mainly creating half chances and a wild slice wide summed up their finishing up to now. Sphinx were still looking threatening and Luke Downes went on one of his driving runs, cutting in from the left he picked out McKenzie who’s first time shot was put out for a corner by the keeper. It was a much more even game now but shortly before half time the Sphinx right back Taylor fed McKenzie who promptly turned and shot with a curling effort towards the far post that was saved comfortably. With half time approaching and Sphinx two goals up they could be pleased with the score line but perhaps disappointed they couldn’t maintain their early superiority.
Half Time: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 SHEPSHED DYNAMO 0
Sphinx needed to start this half the way they had started the first and the early signs were promising. Just two minutes after the break they produced a superb piece of one touch passing football that resulted in a free kick on the edge of the Shepshed box. Cain was poised over the ball but it was centre back Wilks who stepped up and hit a low powerful drive that the keeper had to deal with. Shepshed were starting to have more of the game but Sphinx were defending relatively well. The match was short on clear chances but Shepshed were not out of this yet. Sphinx were not at their fluent best but they were digging in and showing excellent character and desire to protect their lead. On 70 minutes 18 year old Nathaniel McKenzie, who had a good first start was replaced by another promising youngster. Jack Downes, younger brother of team mate Luke Downes, came on in midfield. To see 16 and 18 year old brothers in the Coventry Sphinx midfield together must have been a proud moment for their family. Soon after, last season’s top scorer Rickie Cutting joined the match in place of two goal Chris Gumery. Within minutes of being on the pitch Cutting got his first chance. Played through on goal he just beat the keeper to the ball and poked through a shot that trickled just wide of the post. The game was becoming more and more feisty as we neared the end of the game. Shepshed were desperately trying to get the goal that would get them back in the game and Sphinx were tenaciously defending their lead. Just 5 minutes were remaining when Shepshed got the goal they were looking for. A smart volley on the turn from Brooks found the bottom corner of the net and the last few minutes were set to be a tense affair. It was no real surprise when shortly after the goal a melee broke out on the touchline near the dugouts. 16 year old Jack Downes was battling for the ball with a Shepshed player, young Jack took exception to the manner of the Shepshed player’s challenge and was promptly grabbed hold of by him. This was the cue for his elder brother Luke Downes to sprint over and without hesitation he shoved the Shepshed player away from his young brother. A mass bout of handbags ensued and we had to wait for a few minutes for the referee to show the inevitable Red Card. Shepshed player Danny Chapman was also sent off after receiving a second yellow card for his part in the melee. No complaints from Luke Downes for his dismissal but his actions were understandable. As a result of this break in play we had a further five minutes to play and Sphinx held on for the three points in a nervous finish.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 SHEPSHED DYNAMO 1
GOALS: Sphinx – Gumery 7, 14. Shepshed – Brooks 84. ATTENDANCE: 131
MAN OF THE MATCH:
A game that started so well for the Sphinx turned into a test of their character and they showed tremendous determination, desire and team spirit to emerge with the three points. Carl O’Neill performed well in goal and was only beaten by an excellent finish. Taylor came into the side at right back and put in a solid performance. The centre backs Wilks and 17 year old Rooney performed really well. Kyle Baxter added that much needed bite to the midfield alongside skipper Jackson. Cain showed excellent character to withstand the close attention he received and Nathaniel McKenzie should be pleased with his performance in his first start. However, my Man of the Match goes to Chris Gumery. His two goals won the game for Sphinx but in addition to this it was his leadership qualities that stood out.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL, TAYLOR, DAINTY, BAXTER, ROONEY, WILKS, MCKENZIE, JACKSON (c), GUMERY, CAIN, L. DOWNES
Substitutes: J.DOWNES (on for McKenzie 71 mins), CUTTING (on for Gumery 73 mins), GALDINS (on for Baxter 88 mins)
SHEPSHED DYNAMO TEAM:
THACKER, PRITCHARD, HARRISON, SYKES, BROOKS, GRAY(c), BENNETT, CHAPMAN, CHAPLIN, THOMPSON, BLYTHE
Substitutes: BALL (on for Blythe 75)
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