A crisp winter’s day at Sphinx Drive saw us welcome Coleshill Town for this league match. Coleshill are a top 6 side so it was sure to be a severe test of our excellent home record. An increased crowd were in attendance today due to the offer of free entrance to all Coventry City season ticket holders. It was good to see so many people take advantage of this generous offer to come and try Non League football for free. Coventry Sphinx have started to show a growing consistency to their game recently and this was reflected in the team that was named today. There were just two changes to the starting line up today and they were both due to injury. Kyle Baxter returned to the centre of midfield and Jacob Dodds took his place on the wing after an excellent performance for the Youth team in midweek. Prior to kick off, the teams and officials joined together for a photo as part of the #FootballRemembers weekend to commemorate the First World War.
The match was an even affair in the opening stages with both sides looking to be positive. Sphinx were playing with confidence and were looking to get the ball down and play whenever the opportunity arose and it was this desire to play that got them the first goal of the match. Some excellent build up play, that had Luke Downes at the centre of it, was rewarded when Jackson DOWNIE hit a firm drive from the edge of the box that took a deflection to nestle in the back of the net. 15 mins on the clock and Sphinx a goal up. A good start to build on for the youthful home side. Minutes later and Sphinx were on the attack again as Luke Downes tested Jay in the Coleshill goal. The goal had led to Sphinx playing with even more confidence and they were looking good as they gradually got on top. Sphinx were looking the better side and Luke Downes was at the centre of most of the good play Sphinx were producing. Downes was finding all sorts of space in midfield and he was using it well to effect the game. Over half an hour had been played before Coleshill really started to get a grip of the game. The visitors exerted a few minutes of pressure on the Sphinx defence and their best chance in that period was a one on one which the Sphinx keeper O’Neill dealt with well. The Sphinx response was immediate as young winger Dodds cut in to feed Downes who crossed to Blenkinsopp and his well struck first time volley forced an excellent save from the Coleshill keeper. Just as we were approaching half time, with a deserved lead for the home side, Coleshill struck an equaliser. The ball fell to Premier Division leading scorer Shane Benjamin who thumped in an effort that was too powerful for the Sphinx keeper. We went into the break with the scores level at 1-1 but Sphinx deserved the lead on the balance of play.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 COLESHILL TOWN 1
Early in the second half it was Coleshill who had the better chances. Firstly there was a brief spell where Sphinx struggled to clear their lines and then shortly after Coleshill got through the Sphinx defence which forced O’Neill to rush out of his goal but his clearance only fell to Rathbone who curled his shot from distance over the bar when he should have done better. A reminder to Sphinx that they were up against top 6 opposition and they would need to maintain their performance levels throughout the match. Sphinx did just that however and were still looking the better side overall. Midway through the second half saw Luke Downes go on one of his trademark runs, he unselfishly squared a good pass to Blenkinsopp and his powerful shot went just wide of the post. Sphinx then made their first substitution with Baxter making way for 16 year old Jack Downes in the centre of midfield. Jack Downes efforts in the Youth team had been rewarded with some first team action alongside his teenage brother Luke. Great to see the brothers playing together and also great to see the Youth set up at Sphinx proving so fruitful. Just after the substitution Sphinx got what proved to be the winning goal. The move started on the left with a brilliant ball down the line to Dodds who drove on to cut inside the full back and he lifted his head to pick out the oncoming Luke Downes on the edge of the box. DOWNES took a touch and hit an accurate drive just inside the post to the delight of his team mates and supporters alike! 72 minutes played and Sphinx held a 2-1 lead. 16 year old striker Kyle Jaynes entered the play for Blenkinsopp and his energy gave Sphinx a boost at just the right time. As we entered the last ten minutes, three teenagers produced some beautiful football. The Downes brothers and Dodds combined superbly to set up Luke Downes for an effort that flew over the bar but the build up play was second to none. A minute later and Coleshill almost got themselves an undeserved point but O’Neill pulled off one of the best saves I’m likely to see this season. Coleshill substitute Colborne hit a fierce drive that was heading just under the cross bar and he was poised to celebrate but O’Neill had other ideas as he stretched acrobatically to tip it over the bar. A tremendous save that would end up securing the points for Sphinx that they fully deserved. Some excellent football from the Sphinx team today and I can’t emphasise enough how young and improving this side is. Sphinx finished the game with two 16 year olds, two 17 year olds, two 18 year olds, one 19 year old and a 22 year old! There is more talent coming through the Youth set up as well so the club clearly have a bright future ahead.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 COLESHILL TOWN 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: LUKE DOWNES
Good performances all over the pitch today and the key to the win was the team ethic of the players. Jack Rooney looked at home at right back and is maturing rapidly. The centre pack pair of Rickie Fletcher and Matt Taylor are providing the team with a solid foundation and were excellent again today. Jacob Dodds was a threat with his skill and pace and provided the assist for the winning goal. Jackson Downie was in good form again in the centre of midfield. Carl O’Neill was superb in goal and produced one outstanding save. O’Neill’s performance would have got him Man of the Match on any other day but the performance of Luke Downes cannot be ignored. Downes was at the heart of most of Sphinx’s best moments and was a threat all game from his midfield role. He was a joy to watch as he glided past players as if they were not there. He was instrumental in the first goal and scored the winner too.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL, ROONEY, DAINTY, FLETCHER, TAYLOR, BAXTER (Jack Downes 70 mins), DOWNIE, BLENKINSOPP (Jaynes 76 mins), WILKS, Luke DOWNES, DODDS
Next Coventry Sphinx match:
Monday 8th December HOME BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS 7.45pm kick off MFL Premier Division League Cup
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN