August bank holiday and the rain was pouring down so welcome to the English summer! Leicestershire side Kirby Muxloe were the visitors to Sphinx Drive today as Sphinx looked to continue this seasons unbeaten home record. Sphinx boss Luke Hopkins had some key players missing today. He was without the services of attacking players Chris Gumery, Ashley Cain and Luke Downes and he opted to give youth their chance. 18 year Nathaniel McKenzie came into the side up front and the very promising 16 year old Jack Downes replaced his suspended 18 year old brother Luke on the right of midfield. The ever present 17 year old Jack Rooney was at centre back so there was a youthfulness about the Sphinx side today that’s for sure.
The pitch had coped brilliantly with the deluge of rain but it had slickened the grass up a treat. The early stages of the game were even with no real chances for either side. The first decent effort on goal came in the 16th minute after Sphinx won a free kick. Baxter stepped up and sent the ball towards the top corner but it was a comfortable catch for the Kirby Muxloe keeper. Then it was McKenzie who was next to test the keeper after he showed good foot work in the box to get a shot away. Sphinx were having the better of things but Kirby Muxloe were having moments of their own. A corner for the visitors fell kindly for them and it resulted in a shot over the bar that should have hit the target at least. Approaching the half hour mark Sphinx won a corner and after a good delivery from Baxter the ball was headed wide by McKenzie. Soon after we had the opening goal of the match. The energetic Cutting drove down the right for Sphinx and delivered a low cross that somehow evaded everyone in the box, the ball was collected on the left and a superb cross was headed home brilliantly by Adam BILIC who managed to twist his neck to direct the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 Sphinx after 30 minutes and a deserved lead. Sphinx were looking for a second before half time and their best chances came just before the break. Initially a great interception from Bilic in the centre of midfield followed by a surging run resulted in him sliding a pass in for McKenzie who hit his shot just wide of the far post. A minute later his midfield partner Baxter drove forward and played in Cutting who turned inside but his firm shot was blocked by the Kirby Muxloe defence. Half Time had arrived and Sphinx will feel they had done enough to deserve the lead and certainly looked the most dangerous going forward.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 KIRBY MUXLOE 0
Still plenty to do for Sphinx if they wanted to claim the three points from this game so another goal at least would be needed to secure the win. Just 8 minutes into the second half saw the second goal arrive. Dainty did well down the left to get a cross in but it was too deep and the alert Jack Downes collected it on the right. Downes showed great composure to beat his man and fire in a low cross that fell to DAINTY in the middle of the penalty box who smashed the ball through a crowd of players to get the goal. 2-0 Sphinx but the game wasn’t over at this stage. With the cushion of a two goal lead it was noticeable that the Sphinx right back Matthew Taylor was going forward at every opportunity. One of his forward runs resulted in him unleashing a powerful strike on goal that the keeper could only parry to Cutting but his effort went wide of the post. On the hour mark Kirby had a great chance to get back in the game. After a short spell of pressure Kirby Muxloe contrived to hit the ball wide of a gaping goal. A let off for Sphinx and a miss that the visitors may go on to regret. Full Back Taylor then went on another storming run down the right, the keeper punching away his cross to the waiting Cutting who shot wide. Sphinx manager Hopkins then made the first of his substitutions with McKenzie being replaced by another teenager in Jackson Downie. Youth team player Hardwick also came on to replace his Youth Team colleague Jack Downes who had had a decent game on the right of midfield. The game was opening up with Kirby Muxloe not giving up on a result and Sphinx looking threatening themselves. As we went into the last ten minutes it was Sphinx who looked the most likely to score. A good run by Dainty from the left resulted in the keeper palming away his shot. A quickly taken free kick resulted in a Wilks shot and Cutting saw his shot across goal just about claimed by the keeper. On 90 minutes Bilic unleashed the shot of the match. His drive from 30 yards out was heading for the top corner but somehow the Kirby Muxloe keeper clawed it away to deny Bilic what would have been goal of the season. Heading into stoppage time there was still time for an incredible goal mouth scramble that the visitors somehow failed to score from. Sphinx cleared the ball off the line during this scramble and it certainly looked a tough call for the linesman to decide whether it was in or not. No goal was given and there were no complaints from the players and that was the end of the match which was refereed very well
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 KIRBY MUXLOE 0 ATTENDANCE 75
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Some decent performances in the Sphinx side today with Carl O’Neill in goal on his usual good form. The defence will be rightly pleased with the clean sheet and youngster Jack Downes showed his potential. The key to the win was in my opinion the centre midfield pair of Adam Bilic and Kyle Baxter. Bilic scored an impressive header and offered an attacking threat from the centre of midfield but it’s Baxter who gets my Man of the Match for his all action display. He was everywhere and was excellent with his defensive and offensive duties.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, JACKSON (c), TAYLOR, BILIC, ROONEY, WILKS, J.DOWNES (Hardwick 76), BAXTER, CUTTING, MCKENZIE (Downie 67), DAINTY (Coleman 83)
KIRBY MUXLOE TEAM: BUTLIN, WESSELDINE, STURIDGE, AGATE, PACEY, WILSLOW, MARRIOTT, SEAL (c), LOVE, DARBY, BHAREY Subs: Winfield, McIntosh, Allen, Sheahan
NEXT FOR COVENTRY SPHINX SEES THEM ENTERTAIN LOCAL RIVALS BEDWORTH UTD IN THE FA CUP ON SATURDAY AUGUST 30TH