Mid August and the FA Cup was underway once again for Coventry Sphinx. Today’s tie brought us to rural Leicestershire in the village of Heather near Ibstock. Sphinx do not have the best of records at Heather so this wasn’t going to be an easy match despite Sphinx playing at a level higher than today’s opponents. A cool breezy day awaited us and the grass looked surprisingly long so maybe not a day to suit passing football.
Sphinx lined up without experienced number one goalkeeper Carl O’Neill and the in form Ashley Cain. A strong looking line up all the same with Sphinx boss Hopkins appearing to start with a 4-4-2 formation. Gumery and Cutting leading the attack with support from Luke Downes and Nathaniel McKenzie out wide. A frantic start to the game saw Sphinx get their first chance just minutes into the match when Rickie Cutting outpaced the Heather defence to end up one on one with the Heather keeper who pulled off a double save. After this early opportunity Sphinx struggled to find their rhythm but the lively Cutting was always a threat over the top. Sphinx were stopped in their tracks by numerous offside decisions but Heather had started the better of the two sides. Despite Heather edging the possession they were limited to few chances with the best of those seeing the ball sail over the bar from a shot near the penalty spot. Twenty minutes into the game and Sphinx were now finding their feet. Gumery collected the ball just outside the box but his slight hesitation allowed the keeper to set himself and save his shot. Just a minute later it was Gumery again who fired in a shot from the edge of the box that this time hit the post. Heather were still getting opportunities and a cross to the far post was side footed back across goal but there was no one there to take advantage. That just about summed up Heather’s day so far because they were getting into reasonable positions but were not doing enough to seriously test the young Sphinx keeper Jack Farthing. Sphinx appeared to make a tactical change with McKenzie moving into a more central role in the forward line. He suddenly looked twice the player when operating down the middle. It wasn’t long until he demonstrated his worth down the middle either. Rickie Cutting made a typically determined run down the left and drove on to the by-line before driving in a cross that McKENZIE rose highest for and bulleted a header into the net. 37 minutes gone and Sphinx take the lead. We went into the interval with Sphinx holding a one goal advantage. A bit of a scrappy game with Sphinx having the better of the chances and mainly restricting Heather to long range efforts.
HALF TIME: HEATHER ST JOHNS 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first with Heather edging possession but struggling to do anything meaningful with it and Sphinx looking the more likely to score. Sphinx were at their most dangerous on the break with Rickie Cutting full of running. An early substitution saw Muldoon replace the injured Matthew Taylor at right back. Unfortunate for Taylor after a good performance from him. On the hour mark Cutting was clean through on goal and found himself in a race to the ball with the keeper who had come rushing out of his box. CUTTING won that race and rounded the stranded keeper to smash the ball into the empty net. 2-0 to Coventry Sphinx and surely that was the goal to secure a place in the next round. Sphinx were doing enough to win the game but were certainly not at full throttle. With 20 minutes to go Brad Hardwick came on for his debut and minutes later his fellow Youth Team player Kyle Jaynes also made his First Team debut. Jaynes had got his chance after scoring 5 goals for the Sphinx Youth side on Thursday and he certainly looked lively in the short time he had on the pitch. Hardwick also looked comfortable and credit must go to Gio Dainty, who was playing behind him at left back, for the way he talked him through the game. Just as we thought the game was to be played out for a comfortable Sphinx win we suddenly saw a Red Card for Heather. Palmer received a straight red for violent conduct minutes before the end. A straightforward victory for Coventry Sphinx in the end although if Heather had made more of their chances it could have been a tougher game. Sphinx have certainly played better but they are through to the next round of the FA Cup and that is all that matters. A big local derby with Bedworth United awaits them in the next round at Sphinx Drive.
Man of the Match:
Clearly the defence deserves credit for the clean sheet today and 17 year old centre back Jack Rooney looks more and more at home with each game. Kyle Baxter did well in the centre of midfield by doing the hard work willingly. Gumery grafted hard up front again but my Man of the Match goes to Rickie Cutting. He scored the crucial second goal, worked his socks off up front and looked Sphinx’s biggest threat all game.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: FARTHING, TAYLOR, DAINTY, JACKSON (c), ROONEY, WILKS, McKENZIE, BAXTER, GUMERY, DOWNES, CUTTING
Substitutes: MULDOON (on for Taylor 57 mins), HARDWICK (on for McKenzie 69 mins), JAYNES (on for Gumery 80 mins)
Away Long Eaton Utd Sat Aug 23rd League 3pm
HOME KIRBY MUXLOE Mon Aug 25th League 3pm
HOME BEDWORTH UTD Sat Aug 30th FA CUP 3pm
#UPTHESPHINX #UTS #12THMAN