Sphinx made the trip to Halesowen to take on Causeway Utd with their stirring comeback on Saturday still fresh in our minds. In recent weeks it’s been clear to see that Sphinx are working hard at playing a more attractive style of football but tonight’s weather conditions were going to make that style of play difficult to say the least. The rain was pouring down and the pitch was struggling to cope. The ball was running true but the conditions were slippy and tonight would require the players to stand up and be counted. After the 4-2 win at AFC Wulfrunians at the weekend it was no surprise to see manager Luke Hopkins select a very similar side. The only changes were Ash Jackson stepping in at left back to replace the injured Jamie Coleman and midfielder Kyle Baxter was replaced by Matt Taylor who had such a good game on Saturday when coming on as a substitute. Taylor slotted in at centre back alongside Wilks which allowed Rooney to move into centre midfield alongside Luke Downes.
The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides giving their opponents no time to dwell on the ball. The game had barely got started when in the 7th minute Galdins went storming forward with the ball and was intercepted by a defender which resulted in an accidental clash of heads. Play was stopped to allow treatment to both players and eventually Galdins was helped off the pitch with a deep gash to the top of his head. There was no way he could continue so a very early substitution was required for Coventry Sphinx. Centre back Rickie Fletcher came on and took up the right back position and Bishop moved forward to replace Galdins at right midfield. An early disruption to the team that Luke Hopkins could have done without. Play restarted after a five minute delay and we were straight back into fast pace we had before the stoppage. Causeway were putting Sphinx under some pressure in the first 20 minutes or so without creating any clear cut chances and as the rain got heavier the game was getting scrappier. Sphinx hadn’t tested the home keeper yet but they were defending well. Approaching the half hour mark Sphinx keeper Carl O’Neill pulled off a superb save as he clawed away a header that was heading towards the top corner. That close call seemed to be the trigger for Sphinx to get more into the game and Dodds went on to shoot from outside the box but his firm shot was comfortably collected by the Causeway keeper. Sphinx then got a free kick deep in the Causeway half but it actually resulted in Causeway getting a chance on goal. The free kick was cleared and Causeway broke away which led to O’Neill saving well with his legs but the danger wasn’t clear and Causeway then hit the bar with the follow up shot. A near miss for Sphinx but their response was to get themselves their best chance of the match. Cutting was played in down the right, his accurate cross was met by an unmarked Dainty in the centre of goal but he shot wide of a gaping goal. Good play and a great chance but the keeper disappointingly wasn’t tested. In first half stoppage time O’Neill made a comfortable save to keep the game goalless. Overall Causeway had more chances but Sphinx had the best one of the lot. Causeway will feel they had done enough to lead at half time but Sphinx had defended with grit and determination to keep the scores level at half time.
HALF TIME CAUSEWAY UTD 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
A better start to the second half from Sphinx as they had more of the play and more of the game was being played in the Causeway half. The best chance was a superb counter attack from Sphinx which was only let down by the finish as a Jacob Dodds shot ended up going out for a corner. Causeway weathered the early Sphinx pressure and the game settled into a real battle as the rain continued to pour down. Both sides were working very hard and as a result they were effectively cancelling each other out as chances become very few and far between. It was looking more and more likely that one goal would be enough to settle this game as both teams continued to battle away to get the upper hand. There were minutes to go and I expected Sphinx would now settle for a point after working so hard all night. That’s not the Sphinx way however and they continued to push forward but that was to prove their undoing in the end. Sphinx were caught out as Causeway gained possession on the left and a long diagonal cross field ball was collected by the right back steaming forward. He drove towards the box and his shot, which appeared to take a deflection, found it’s way into the Sphinx net. Four minutes from the end and an absolute heartbreaker for the Sphinx after all the hard work they had put in. The work the players had put in was a credit to themselves, their manager and the club and if they continue with that attitude then I’m sure they will get their rewards.
FULL TIME CAUSEWAY UTD 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ash Wilks
One thing that stood out tonight was the work rate of every single one of the players. You could not fault their commitment and desire to play for their manager Luke Hopkins and I was proud of all them for their willingness to play for the shirt. Having said that, some players are worth a mention. Carl O’Neill had his usual good game in goal and his leadership is an effective part of his game too. Rickie Fletcher came off the bench and played well for 80 minutes in an unfamiliar right back position. Luke Downes never stopped looking to get Sphinx going from his playmaker role in the centre of midfield. Matt Taylor performed well at centre back again but my Man of the Match is his centre back partner Ash Wilks. Wilks is one of the few experienced players in the Sphinx side and as well as playing well he lead by example in testing conditions.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL, BISHOP (Gumery 65 mins), TAYLOR, ROONEY, WILKS, JACKSON, GALDINS (Fletcher 12 mins), CUTTING, DODDS (Jaynes 83 mins), DOWNES, DAINTY
Next Coventry Sphinx match:
HOME STOURPORT SWIFTS Saturday 15th November 3pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN