Today Coventry Sphinx made the trip up the M1 to Basford Utd who have made a tremendous start to the season. Sphinx have a poor away record so far this season so a tough test was on the cards for them today. A few changes to the Sphinx line up today including a couple of new signings. In goal today was Scott Dutton who joins the club on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers. An excellent signing for Sphinx and I expect him to be a good short term solution to the goalkeeping problem Sphinx have had since Number One keeper Carl O’Neill suffered a fractured finger. Also making his debut today was midfielder Ben Ashby who has signed from Atherstone Town. Experienced defender Ash Wilks returned from suspension and his partner was Rickie Fletcher who has returned to the club after a stint at Bedworth Utd. David Barnett, another recent signing, returned to the side on the right of midfield after a short spell on the side-lines with injury. It was also great to see Stuart Dutton return to the Sphinx dugout alongside Manager Luke Hopkins who had been working hard all week in an attempt to improve his squad.
A lively start from both sides led to a double blow to Sphinx as Basford took an early lead in the 7th minute and debutant Ben Ashby suffered an injury that ended his afternoon prematurely. The goal was calmly tucked away by Stuart Hendrie after he rounded the keeper and before play restarted Ashby was replaced by Adam Bilic. Not a good start to the match for Sphinx but with both sides looking to be positive it made for an entertaining game. Clear chances were limited but on 25 minutes Basford doubled their lead after they burst through the Sphinx defence to be stopped by Scott Dutton bravely diving at the feet of the striker but the loose ball was lifted into an empty net by Stuart Hendrie. Sphinx were nowhere near their best and they were being punished for it. Basford were getting too much space to play in and they were taking full advantage. Going forward Sphinx were restricted to the odd chance and one of those saw Bilic head just wide after good work from Barnett down the right. Basford unsurprisingly got themselves a third goal 6 minutes before half time. Blair Anderson, who was causing Sphinx all sorts of trouble, was instrumental again and a cross shot from Stuart Hendrie was tapped in at the far post by Nightingale. To compound the misery of the first half, Sphinx suffered another injury to Gio Dainty. A hamstring injury forced Dainty off and he was replaced by Jamie Coleman. It seemed that what could go wrong did go wrong and we gladly took the half time interval.
HALF TIME: BASFORD UTD 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
3-0 down and Sphinx were in danger of a thrashing if they didn’t improve so still plenty to play for. The half time team talk certainly had an impact as Sphinx immediately looked brighter and were pressing their opponents with more vigour. If they could get an early goal then there was a chance of getting back in this. Just ten minutes into the half and bad luck struck again. Anderson cut in from the right and keeper Scott Dutton came forward to confront him. He unleashed a rocket of a shot that was stopped by Dutton’s head. He went down in a heap and the first concern was had he been knocked unconscious. After a worrying few minutes the Sphinx keeper was helped to his feet and at this moment it became apparent he had also suffered an injury to his ankle as the stud marks testified. He was in no condition to continue so midfielder Ash Jackson took the gloves to become Sphinx’s 6th goalkeeper of the season. Attacking midfielder Luke Downes came off the bench to replace him. When play restarted it was Sphinx who threatened with a chance for David Barnett who lifted his effort just over the bar.
Just 7 minutes after joining the field of play Luke Downes pulled a deserved goal back for Sphinx. Rickie Cutting broke through down the right and his low driven cross picked out Downes at the far post who slammed in from close range. Half an hour to go and if Sphinx could maintain this level of performance they had a chance of getting back in this game. Sphinx certainly believed they could get back in this game by the way they retrieved the ball from the net. Sphinx continued to play with desire and commitment and were a vast improvement on the first half. Meanwhile at the other end, Ash Jackson had hardly had a save to make but when he was called upon he responded well. Midfielder Jackson was doing well with the gloves on and his team were protecting him admirably. After being three goals down and all substitutes used early in the second half due to injuries, it was a good response from Coventry Sphinx. The players deserve credit for the character they showed but credit must also go to the Sphinx management who got the required response from the players. Despite the improved performance Sphinx were unable to find the second goal they needed. Pride restored with the second half efforts but too much to do in the end to get any points.
FULL TIME: BASFORD UTD 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 1 ATTENDANCE 63
MAN OF THE MATCH:
A poor first half team performance contrasted with a good second half team performance. Scott Dutton did well in goal before he was forced off the pitch early in the second half. Luke Downes made a real difference when he came on and Ash Jackson did superbly when he took the gloves for the majority of the second half. However, my Man of the Match goes to David Barnett. He got better as the game went on, showed great intelligence with some of his play, produced some good crosses from the right and got himself into shooting positions too.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON (L.Downes 55 mins), TAYLOR, JACKSON, ASHBY (Bilic 7 mins), FLETCHER (c), WILKS, BARNETT, BAXTER, GUMERY, CUTTING, DAINTY (Coleman 45 mins)
Next fixture for Coventry Sphinx:
Home STUDLEY Saturday 4th October 3pm FA VASE
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN