A trip to Rocester on Tuesday evening for Coventry Sphinx as they continued the search for their first away win of the season. Rocester had a poor start to the season but a change in manager has seen an upturn in their results so a tough match was ahead for the boys in blue. Only one change in the line up for Coventry Sphinx tonight as leading scorer Chris Gumery returned to the side in place of skipper Ash Jackson. Some positional changes within the team saw Ash Wilks return to centre back after a brief stint as a centre forward and Jack Rooney moved forward into a midfield role from his regular position of centre back. A long trip for an evening game resulted in some Sphinx players getting caught up in traffic but the whole squad was there within 30 minutes of kick off so we were all set to kick off time.
A quite astonishing start to the game saw Rocester take the lead within 15 seconds of the kick off. What should have been a straightforward ball to deal with ended up in the back of the Sphinx net after a misjudgement from keeper Carl O’Neill left Rocester striker Richie-Smith the simple task of passing into an empty net. A disastrous start for Sphinx and if they were to get a result tonight it was going to have to be done the hard way. Sphinx responded well to the early setback and on 4 minutes they were unlucky not to equalise when Kiam Galdins shot slammed against the post. At the other end Rocester won a corner which resulted in a shot flying over the bar when they should have hit the target with at the very least. Rocester are a physical and direct side and this was a vastly different test to Sphinx’s previous game against a Loughborough side who like to pass and move. Sphinx stood up to the physical test well but just as the game was getting into its stride the power suddenly went off to plunge the pitch into darkness. The players returned to the dressing rooms and after a 20 minute delay we were back underway. The floodlight failure came after 21 minutes and the play restarted in a scrappy manner. The game was low on chances as both sides battled for supremacy. Sphinx striker Gumery was having a torrid battle with the Rocester centre backs and the referee had little sympathy for him. Then Sphinx were awarded a free kick which Ash Cain delivered into the box and the keepers weak punch fell to Ash Wilks but he put his effort over the bar. As the half was drawing to a close we started to see Sphinx play some good passing football. They had a good sustained spell of possession but the Rocester defence stood firm as we went into the break with the home side a goal up.
HALF TIME: ROCESTER 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
The match continued to be a scrappy affair with chances at a premium for both sides. Sphinx couldn’t get their passing game going but they were battling hard for each other and still had every chance of getting something from the game. Approaching the hour mark Rocester hit a free kick straight down the middle that saw Sphinx keeper O’Neill push it over the bar. Sphinx could not find a breakthrough against a resilient Rocester defence so Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins made two quick substitutions in an attempt to affect the game. Dainty and Bishop came on and they immediately made a difference. Just minutes after the substitutions Sphinx were level. Rocester failed to clear a Sphinx corner and Gumery was in the right place to back heel the loose ball into the net much to the delight of the travelling support. 69 minutes gone and the scores were now level at 1-1. Bishop, who was playing at right back, was making some surging runs and delivering some good crosses as well and one of those crosses was put over the bar by an unmarked Cain. The goal had given Sphinx a clear lift and they were now looking the better side and the most likely to go on and win the game. Sphinx were having more of the ball and that was mainly due to them finding their rhythm with their passing game. Sphinx always look a far better side when they keep the ball on the floor and move the ball around with pace. Rocester were hanging on but Sphinx were unable to find the winner they were looking for and the game ended with the points shared. A determined display from Sphinx and they certainly played for the shirt tonight. A good away point but I’m sure they will be disappointed not to have taken all three points in the end.
FULL TIME: ROCESTER 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Some gritty performances tonight and what really stood out was the team spirit. Every player was willing to graft hard for their team mates and that was pleasing to see. Rooney was full of energy in the centre of midfield alongside Baxter. Gumery battled away up front and also got himself a goal. Jamie Coleman had a good game at left back in a position that he has made his own. Bishop gave the team a significant attacking threat down the right when he came on but my Man of the Match is Rickie Fletcher. He led the defence well and his willingness to step out of defence with the ball to try to instigate attacks was pleasing to see.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, TAYLOR (Bishop 66 mins), COLEMAN, ROONEY, FLETCHER (c), WILKS, GALDINS (Dainty 64 mins), BAXTER, GUMERY (Dodds 87 mins), CAIN, L.DOWNES
Next fixture for Coventry Sphinx:
Away Walsall Wood Saturday 18th October 3pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN