Sphinx went on their travels again looking for their first away league win of the season. They were looking to build on their midweek cup victory at Tipton Town by taking three points at struggling Heath Hayes. Four changes in the starting line up today and three of those were forced on Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins. Regular keeper Carl O’Neill returned to the side from injury in place of Scott Dutton who had returned to Wolverhampton Wanderers after his loan stint. Jamie Coleman came in to replace captain Ash Jackson at left back who had moved into midfield to replace the suspended Jackson Downie. Recent signing Ben Ashby also stepped into midfield to replace the injured Kyle Baxter. Finally, senior striker Rickie Cutting started in place of the unfortunate youngster Jacob Dodds who had played so well at Tipton in midweek. Teenage striker Kyle Jaynes also retained his place up front after scoring in midweek in a more experienced looking line up that still had four teenagers in it though.
Coventry Sphinx are a better side when they can get their passing game going and the pitch wasn’t going to help that today. The pitch was in surprisingly poor condition considering the time of year so Sphinx were going to have show another side to their game to succeed today I felt. Sphinx started the game really well and were having all the early possession. Just 5 minutes into the game and they got as good an opportunity as they could have wished for. Cutting was played clean through on goal and with time to compose himself he hit his shot wide of the goal. A glorious chance which they would come to regret missing. Heath Hayes got a chance of their own soon after but they shot straight at Carl O’Neill in the Sphinx goal. Rickie Cutting was looking lively up front for Sphinx and he went on to play midfielder Ashby through who looked up to square it to the oncoming Downes but his weak shot didn’t trouble the keeper. The next passage of play saw Dainty play a ball over the top and Cutting was inches away from beating the keeper to the ball. Sphinx were having the better of the early exchanges and Cutting was involved in most of them. Sphinx were to regret not building on their good start as Heath Hayes showed them how to finish with a well worked goal. A ball was played from midfield behind the Coventry Sphinx left back and the cross picked out the oncoming Eatley who dispatched the low cross into the Sphinx net. 1-0 to Heath Hayes after 19 minutes and slightly against the run of play. Goals frequently change games and this one certainly did. The home side improved and Sphinx lost their way a little to make the game a much more even contest. Sphinx’s Ash Jackson hit a powerful long range shot on the half hour mark that Cottrell in the Heath Hayes goal spilt but an alert defender cleared the danger. Heath Hayes got a free kick soon after on the right which was met at the back post but the ball went agonisingly between the far post and a Heath Hayes player to trickle out for a goal kick. A let off for Sphinx and an indication of the Heath Hayes improvement since taking the lead. The highly competitive game went into the break with the home side holding a one goal advantage.
HALF TIME: HEATH HAYES 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
In this half, Sphinx were going to need to get back to how they started the first half if they wanted to get anything out of the game. The half started with both sides competing well and the first opportunity came to Coventry Sphinx. Cutting headed a ball on to Kyle Jaynes who was getting the better of the Heath Hayes defender Wright before he was rather cynically stopped in his tracks. A clear yellow card for the defender and a free kick for Sphinx. A firmly struck free kick from Wilks was comfortably collected by the keeper though and Heath Hayes retained their lead. Minutes later a rare error from Rickie Fletcher in the Sphinx defence allowed Green through on goal but he fluffed a fantastic opportunity to score. An hour gone and teenager Jaynes was replaced by another teenager Jacob Dodds. Jaynes had ran himself into the ground for his team and Dodds joined the play having been unlucky not to start the match. Immediately after the substitution Dainty was at the heart of some good play down the left but they failed make a decent chance from it. Dodds then picked out Coleman on the left who cut inside to shoot wide of the target. It was Dodds again who went on a strong determined run in the centre of the park and he was certainly looking the part in first team football. Another change from Luke Hopkins saw him introduce right back Matt Taylor for midfielder Ben Ashby to enable him to push centre back Ash Wilks up front in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser. As we entered the dying minutes of the match Sphinx were pushing hard for the goal and Heath Hayes were defending their 1-0 lead with real determination. Dodds again was the architect as he played Cutting in and his powerful strike was pushed over the bar. Then a fierce volley from Dainty beat the keeper who had a defender to thank for a goal line clearance. Just as we were entering injury time Heath Hayes were awarded a dubious looking penalty after Scragg ended up on the floor. Up stepped McNulty for Heath Hayes who proceeded to blaze his spot kick well over the bar. I’m sure the referee would concede he made a mistake in awarding the penalty in the first place but it was to prove irrelevant in the end as the bottom line is that Sphinx failed to score and didn’t deserve anything from the game as a result.
FULL TIME: HEATH HAYES 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jack Rooney
The youngsters caught my eye again as Kyle Jaynes grafted hard up front without getting a clear chance to score. Jacob Dodds impressed in his half hour on the pitch with his determination and skill. A word for Ben Ashby in midfield who put in a real shift. However, my Man of the Match is Jack Rooney. Jack has recently moved across from centre back to right back and was good defensively as well as looking to get forward at every opportunity.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, ROONEY, COLEMAN, JACKSON (Bishop 82 mins), FLETCHER, WILKS, DAINTY, ASHBY (Taylor 74 mins), JAYNES (Dodds 61 mins), CUTTING, DOWNES
Next Coventry Sphinx match:
Away AFC Wulfrunians Saturday 8th November 3pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN