A seemingly good draw for Coventry Sphinx as they hosted lower league Studley in the FA Vase today but with cup competitions anything can happen so Sphinx would need to perform to get through to the next round. There were many changes in the Sphinx team today since their defeat at league leaders Basford Utd last weekend. Just four players kept their place but the majority of the changes were forced on manager Luke Hopkins due to injuries. Number One keeper Carl O’Neill returned despite not being fully fit due to the unavailability of Scott Dutton. Bishop and Coleman came into the side as full backs, Bilic replaced the injured Ashby who was injured just minutes into his debut last week, Galdins replaced the injured Barnett at right midfield and Luke Downes came in for the injured Gio Dainty on the left of midfield. Finally, Luke Hopkins gave a debut to new signing Nic Evangelinos which resulted in striker Rickie Cutting taking a place on the bench. Evangelinos was signed during the week from Southern League club Banbury Utd and the 20 year old looks a really promising signing. He was a prolific goal scorer at Youth level so he clearly knows where the back of the net is.
The game started in typical cup tie fashion with both sides getting in shots inside the first 5 minutes but none of the efforts seriously troubled the keepers. Sphinx were starting to get on top and in the 16th minute they had a big shout for a penalty when a Studley defender went through the back of Sphinx striker Evangelinos. The referee ignored the appeals but Sphinx continued to press without creating any clear cut chances. On the half hour mark the Sphinx left back Coleman almost scored an excellent solo goal. He intercepted a Studley pass then cut inside to drive towards the penalty area and hit a firm drive that went just over the bar. Minutes later we had a glimpse of what Evangelinos was about when he outpaced the Studley defence to unleash a fierce shot that was beaten away by Edwards in the Studley goal. I felt a goal was coming but it was to be Studley who would get it. Studley striker Bailey got in down the left and smashed in an accurate effort to beat the Sphinx keeper. Slightly against the run of play but it was Studley who took their chance to go 1-0 up just 4 minutes before half time. Just as it looked like Sphinx were going into the break a goal down they got themselves an equaliser. EVANGELINOS outpaced two defenders to head the bouncing ball down into his own path and finished beautifully past the Studley keeper. A goal of real quality to make the score 1-1 at half time.
HALF TIME COVENTRY SPHINX 1 STUDLEY 1
The second half was just seconds old when Sphinx put themselves into the lead. Some neat passing football left GUMERY free in the box to poke home a calm finish to make it 2-1 to Coventry Sphinx. Studley responded well to going behind and increased their efforts in an attempt to level the scores. In the 54th minute Taylor found space on the left and his powerful strike was pushed out for a corner by O’Neill in the Sphinx goal. Studley had more of the play since going behind but Sphinx were defending reasonably well to protect their lead. After an hour Sphinx came extremely close to extending their lead from a move that was started and finished by Galdins. He pinched the ball deep in his own half and his strong run led to him feeding Gumery on the right. Galdins continued his run into the box and he met an excellent cross with a firm header onto the crossbar. Great play from Galdins and unlucky not to get on the score sheet. Studley continued to show the desire to get back in the game and their efforts were rewarded in the 67th minute with an equaliser. A low driven cross got through to the far post where it was finished well by Bailey to claim his second of the match. It was anyone’s game now but Studley had got a huge boost from the goal and they were looking the most likely to score again. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins responded with two substitutions. The tiring Galdins came off after having a good game and Gumery also left the field to be replaced by Cutting and Jackson. The changes had little impact on the game and Studley continued to look the most likely to win. Time was running out and I would gladly have took extra time at this stage but Studley came up with the winner just 6 minutes from the end of the 90 minutes. Hylton drove the ball home in a crowded penalty area and it was no more than Studley deserved. Studley were certainly no better than Coventry Sphinx in terms of ability but they appeared to have that extra desire to win the match. An incredibly disappointing result for Sphinx but in fairness they didn’t deserve to win in the end.
FULL TIME COVENTRY SPHINX 2 STUDLEY 3
MAN OF THE MATCH:
A good debut from striker Nic Evangelinos who showed us his eye for a goal. With the right service he will score plenty of goals. The stand out player for me was Kiam Galdins. He was a real threat down the right and he rarely put a foot wrong. His work rate was excellent and he was a fine example to any young player
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, BISHOP, COLEMAN, BILIC, FLETCHER (c), WILKS, GALDINS (Jackson 69 mins), BAXTER, GUMERY (Cutting 73 mins), EVANGELINOS, L.DOWNES
Next fixture for Coventry Sphinx:
HOME Loughborough University Saturday 11th October
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