Worcestershire was our destination as Coventry Sphinx began their FA Vase campaign at Bewdley Town. You couldn’t wish for a more scenic place to watch football with the ground situated out of town and sitting in a pocket of land with Ribbesford Woods on one side and the majestic River Severn on the other. The sun was beating down as well so it was a fantastic setting for a football match. An impressive amount of Sphinx supporters had made the trip today and they were greeted by two new faces in the Sphinx squad. David Barnett joined the club from Bedworth Utd and plays wide midfield. He’s in his mid twenties and previous clubs include Nuneaton Griff and Barwell. We also welcomed Lewis Bishop to the club from Rugby Town and he plays at right back. He is in his early twenties and he started as a junior at Birmingham City before joining the Peterborough Utd Youth Team. During his spell at Peterborough he was capped at U17 level for the Republic of Ireland so he certainly arrives with a good pedigree.
There were three changes to the Sphinx side from their extra time defeat at Bedworth Utd in the FA Cup on Tuesday. Tom Muldoon was replaced by Matt Taylor at right back, the injured Ashley Cain was replaced by new signing Dave Barnett at right midfield and Luke Downes (returning from suspension) replaced Chris Gumery in attack. Some of the players arrived late due to getting caught in heavy traffic so they were restricted to a quick warm up before kick off. Not the best of starts and the start got a whole lot worse when Bewdley broke through the Sphinx defence to leave Sam Woodhouse clear to finish past Farthing in the Sphinx goal. 1-0 down and just 43 seconds on the clock. Bewdley went on to dominate the early part of the game but after 7 minutes new signing Barnett gave us a glimpse of what he has to offer when he cut in from the right to force a good save from the Bewdley keeper. Sphinx were still struggling to get going but a big shout for a penalty was ignored by the Ref when Barnett was barged over in the box. Farthing comfortably saved a long range effort from Bewdley and captain Ash Jackson headed over from a free kick for Sphinx. Chances were limited but midway through the half Bewdley doubled their lead. Some nice play down the right resulted in the cross being steered into a gaping net by Flory. Sphinx were now 2-0 down and if they didn’t up their game quickly they were going to find themselves out of the Vase at the first opportunity. Bewdley were full of confidence after their two goals and more good play ended with a shot just over the bar. Sphinx were starting to show signs of life and Cutting headed wide from a Dainty cross. Just minutes later Cutting got in down the right and slid a lovely ball for Barnett who had made a smart run inside him. Barnett drove on and picked out DAINTY with his cross who turned inside the defender to place his shot past the keeper. A vital goal for Sphinx to reduce the deficit to a single goal before half time. After the start they had to the game I was happy to take that going into half time. I’m not so sure the manager Luke Hopkins would have been so charitable and half time was a great opportunity for him to get his team going in this match.
HALF TIME: BEWDLEY TOWN 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
The Sphinx team emerged for the second half looking well motivated to get back in the game and they started the half a far better side. This was a bit more like it and Sphinx were dominating the game now but they were limited on clear chances. Approaching the hour mark Barnett was played through and he would have been disappointed not to hit the target with his shot. Sphinx were really cranking up the pressure and on 60 minutes the equaliser came. CUTTING put away a typical strikers goal with a close range finish that levelled the scores at 2-2. The goal didn’t change the flow of the match as Sphinx continued the assault on the Bewdley goal. Barnett delivered another cross and Dainty headed over but it wasn’t to be long before Sphinx got their third goal. A free kick was swung into the box and captain Ash JACKSON rose to glance a header in to put Sphinx ahead for the first time in the match. 3-2 to Coventry Sphinx in the 68th minute after being two goals down. Bewdley still looked capable of equalising so still plenty to play for in this thrilling cup tie. Sphinx were looking for another goal to wrap up the game and Luke Downes came close when his shot was deflected just wide of the post. In the 82nd minute Bewdley were awarded a clear penalty. Sphinx defender Ash Wilks brought down his opponent and it was an easy decision for the Ref to give the Penalty. I was expecting a yellow card at the worst and I was astounded when Wilks was shown a straight Red to leave Sphinx with ten men. Eventually the spot kick was taken and a drive down the middle by Flowers was enough to level the scores at 3-3. The final minutes were played out and we were all set for extra time.
FULL TIME: BEWDLEY TOWN 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 3
Extra time was the last thing Sphinx needed after taking Bedworth to Extra time in the FA Cup just five days ago. To make it a tougher task they would have to play the thirty minutes with ten men after the dismissal of Wilks. To add to the task Sphinx midfielder Adam Bilic was struggling to run after suffering a dead leg and with Sphinx having used all their substitutes he had no choice but to stay on the pitch. There were very few chances in this period and a replay was looking on the cards. The tension was building as we got closer to the end and with just minutes to go Sphinx only went and won it! New signing Lewis BISHOP who had joined the play early in the second half was the hero. Bishop made a great run from right back and found himself clean through on goal with the ball at his feet and with all the poise of a seasoned striker he steered the ball past the keeper to put Sphinx into the next round. The Sphinx players and supporters went wild and it was a thrilling end to an enthralling cup tie.
FINAL SCORE: BEWDLEY TOWN 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 4
Man of the Match:
Despite conceding three goals Jack Farthing did well in the Sphinx goal for such a young man. He came for crosses and came out of his goal quickly to take the pressure off his defence. Barnett and Bishop both had very promising debuts and Cutting was full of running up front. However, my choice is Gio Dainty. He worked hard on the left of midfield and as well as his work to provide opportunities he was also looking to get into goal scoring positions himself.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: FARTHING, TAYLOR (Bishop 53 mins), JACKSON, BILIC,WILKS, BAXTER, BARNETT (J.Downes 75 mins), ROONEY, CUTTING, L.DOWNES (Coleman 82 mins), DAINTY
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN