Nothing beats an FA Cup tie against close neighbours and today saw Bedworth Utd make the short journey into Coventry to take on Coventry Sphinx. This tie had been much anticipated by the Sphinx support and we were expecting a much higher than average crowd to arrive at Sphinx Drive. I arrived at the ground a good two hours before kick off and you could already sense today was going to be a great occasion. The overflow car park was in use, there were more stewards on duty and we even had a brief visit from the local police! The bar in the clubhouse was full to bursting well before kick off and it was good to see the numerous Bedworth fans arriving for the match. I made my way to pitch side a good half an hour before kick off to take in the pre match atmosphere and the pitch looked in superb condition as usual.
Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins opted for pace up front with the duo of Ashley Cain and Rickie Cutting and had an energetic looking midfield in front of a familiar looking defence. Hopkins opted for experience in defence with the exception of teenager Jack Rooney. Rooney came into the side during pre-season and has made the centre back position his own. The side had a really solid look to it and it was crucial they started the game well to let higher league opposition know they were in a game. That’s exactly what Sphinx did and they started in determined mood to gain the early edge in the game. A free kick in the third minute was arguably Sphinx’s best chance of the match. Ashley Cain sent in a free kick with his usual quality and skipper Ashley Jackson headed the ball wide when he would have expected to hit the target at the very least. Sphinx had started with the territorial advantage but their best opportunities were coming from set pieces. Another Cain free kick forced the Bedworth keeper to scramble the ball away early on. Shortly after there was confusion in the Bedworth defence with the keeper getting into a mix up with his defender which allowed Sphinx striker Cutting to lob just wide of a vacant goal. A let off for Bedworth and Sphinx may come to regret not getting themselves into the lead when they had the chance. I was expecting Bedworth to soon start threatening the Sphinx goal but it never really happened for them in the first half. The game developed into a real battle that resulted in very few chances for either side but was enthralling to watch none the less. Sphinx had the best of the chances that were on offer but neither keeper was seriously tested in a first half that was a typical local derby cup tie.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 BEDWORTH UTD 0
The Sphinx management would have been satisfied with their teams performance so far. The key now was could they maintain the work rate, commitment and desire they had displayed in the first half. The Bedworth team were out on the pitch a few minutes after the Sphinx but it was Bedworth who started off the half on the front foot. They forced the Sphinx keeper into action but he dealt with the few shots with relative ease. Sphinx were as spirited as they were in the first half and defended excellently to restrict Bedworth to very few opportunities. The game was one of very few chances and as the game went on it was becoming clear that just the one goal could settle this. Neither side could find the breakthrough in what was becoming a very tense affair. The two sides met in pre-season and Bedworth ran out comfortable winners that day and that was mainly due to Sphinx succumbing to the physical style of Bedworth’s play. There was none of that today as Sphinx more than matched their opponents in the physical battle. The game was locked in stalemate and it was no surprise to see the scores finish at 0-0. Sphinx had the better of the chances early in the first half but in the end a draw was probably a fair result.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 BEDWORTH UTD 0 ATTENDANCE: 334
MAN OF THE MATCH:
A game of few chances that was as much down to the efforts of the whole team rather than just the defence but this showed us the other side of Sphinx’s game well. Cutting worked his socks off up front and the midfield’s work rate was impressive. The defence should be pleased with the clean sheet as they all did well but I’m going to single out the Right Back Tom Muldoon for Man of the Match. His experience shone through and despite not being a regular starter he came into the side and did a superb job on the right of the Sphinx defence.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, JACKSON(c), MULDOON, BAXTER, ROONEY, WILKS, DAINTY, BILIC, CAIN, DOWNIE (J.Downes 72), CUTTING (Gumery 68)
BEDWORTH UNITED TEAM: HINDS, THOMSON (Degville-Cross 65), TULLIN(c), WALTERS, FOLKES, FLETCHER, ROWE, STEANE (Creaney 32), NAUGHTON, DUBIDAT, BAINS
REPLAY: The teams will battle it out again for a place in the next round on Tuesday 2nd September in Bedworth with the match kicking off at 7.45pm.