The joyful Sphinx players celebrate victory (Photo by Stephen Reg Cave)
Wolverhampton was the destination for Coventry Sphinx today as we took on mid table side AFC Wulfrunians in the Midland Football League Premier Division. We were looking for a response after last weeks narrow defeat at lowly Heath Hayes. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins responded with four changes in the starting line up. In defence, Bishop came in at right back which resulted in Jack Rooney shuffling across to centre back to replace the unavailable Rickie Fletcher. The changes in midfield saw Kyle Baxter replace Ashby and Galdins come in for Jackson and up front teenager Jacob Dodds replaced fellow youth team player Kyle Jaynes.
A slow start from Coventry Sphinx saw Wulfrunians take the early advantage with a simple but well taken goal. Sphinx were caught too open at the back as Scott Stevenson was played in down the left and his cross was finished smartly at close range at the far post by Nathan Rose-Laing. A poor start for Sphinx and a real test of character was ahead of them now. Sphinx were struggling to settle defensively as they were getting exposed on the wings. Wulfrunians were the better side so far and after the ball was given away in midfield they came close to doubling their lead. Keeper Carl O’Neill saved the day with a good save to keep the deficit down to one goal. 25 minutes into the game and O’Neill was far busier in goal than we would have liked. Something needed to change and with midfielder Kyle Baxter going off injured it was an opportunity for Sphinx manager Hopkins to influence the game. Matt Taylor came on and slotted in at the centre of defence. As a result Jack Rooney stepped up to partner Luke Downes in the centre of midfield. We now had two teenagers in the engine room who gave us energy and passing ability and this change turned out to be the catalyst for the come back. Sphinx eased themselves into the game as we approached half time and a storming run from Bishop at right back saw him go tumbling on the edge of the box. No free kick but much more positive play from Sphinx. Wulfrunians were still looking a threat and a sloppy Sphinx free kick led to Carl O’Neill being called into action again. He produced a good save and we went into half time a goal down. Considering how we started the game, I was happy to take that and regroup. After showing signs of improvement in the latter stages of the half I was optimistic of getting something from the game.
HALF TIME: AFC WULFRUNIANS 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
Sphinx continued their improvement straight from the kick off and within minutes they were level. It started with a great ball down the left to Cutting and his low cross was very nearly thrown into the net by the Wulfrunians keeper. It was cleared off the line but Sphinx maintained the pressure with a corner. The corner was cleared wide but Galdins collected and fired in a cross that was met by the outside of Jacob DODDS foot to cleverly finish into the bottom corner. A nice goal for Dodds and a great moment for the young man with his proud Dad in the crowd. Minutes later and Sphinx were almost behind again as a mistake from Wilks let the striker in on goal but O’Neill was there again as the ball went out for a corner. However, Sphinx were looking much better so far in this half and with the scores now level there was all to play for. On the hour mark Dainty made a strong run down the left, squared it to Dodds and his shot flew just over the bar. On came the second Sphinx substitute as striker Gumery replaced right midfielder Galdins. Gumery joined Cutting up front and Dodds went out to the right. Wulfrunians took the lead almost immediately as they broke away to score through Jamie King. Sphinx protested for a foul earlier in the move but the goal stood and they were behind again. 2-1 to the home side with half an hour to play. Almost straight from kick off and the game was level again as Cutting got a well deserved goal. Once again the tenacity of Rickie CUTTING saw him rewarded with a goal. His work forced a mistake from a defender, he then evaded the keeper to slam the ball between two covering defenders to equalise for Sphinx. Wulfrunians were far from out of the game and a misjudged header from Wilks fell to the striker who lobbed the keeper and Sphinx had Taylor to thank for his clearance off the line. In the 70th minute Sphinx took the lead for the first time in the match. Gumery won a free kick and Luke Downes brilliant delivery was met at the far post by a stooping WILKS.
Wilks heads home the third goal to give Sphinx the lead (Photo by Stephen Reg Cave)
The lead was no more than Sphinx’s second half performance had deserved but with twenty minutes to play there was plenty of work ahead of them. After 76 minutes Dodds cut in and shot over the bar in what turned out to be his last contribution as he was replaced by Youth Team colleague Kyle Jaynes. Wulfrunians were attempting to put Sphinx under pressure in their search for an equaliser and the fresh legs of Jaynes up front was to prove vital. Sphinx defended resolutely and they were starting to expose Wulfrunians on the break. On the 90 minute mark Sphinx sealed the win with a goal from 16 year old JAYNES. Jaynes was through on goal, the keeper slipped as he came out to confront him and before he recovered Jaynes showed excellent composure to chip him from 25 yards. The away support went nuts and the focus of the celebrations was around Pete Jaynes as the fans and his goal scoring Son (who was being mobbed by his team mates) went straight to him. What a moment for Dad and Son and the rest of the players and fans seemed rather pleased too! A great comeback by the Sphinx and a testament to their character and desire to play for the shirt.
Kyle Jaynes congratulated by his team mates after scoring the fourth goal (Photo by Stephen Reg Cave)
FULL TIME: AFC WULFRUNIANS 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 4
MAN OF THE MATCH: Luke Downes
Spoilt for choice today and that’s just how I like it! O’Neill kept Sphinx in the game in the early stages with some good saves and had a good game. Bishop provided a real attacking threat from right back and certainly impressed me. Taylor came on and was a revelation at centre back after playing predominately at right back all season. Dainty had a good game at left midfield and helped the younger players well. Jacob Dodds is looking more and more comfortable playing first team football and capped his display with a fine goal. The moment of the game came courtesy of Kyle Jaynes goal that led to fantastic celebrations. The key to the second half resurgence was the performance of the central midfield pair. Teenagers Jack Rooney and Luke Downes displayed energy, maturity, work rate and quality in abundance. Difficult to separate the pair but my Man of the Match is Luke Downes.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL (c), BISHOP, COLEMAN, BAXTER (Taylor 29 mins), WILKS, ROONEY, DODDS (Jaynes 76 mins), CUTTING, DOWNES, GALDINS (Gumery 61 mins), DAINTY
Next Coventry Sphinx match:
Away CAUSEWAY UNITED Tuesday 11th November 7.45pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN