A Boxing Day trip to Alvechurch for Coventry Sphinx today. A recent run of good results saw Sphinx travel with a degree of confidence and once again there was a settled look to the side with just one change from the creditable 3-3 draw with league leaders Long Eaton. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins had regular centre back Ricky Fletcher unavailable so he dealt with that by returning Ash Wilks to defence after a short stint up front and bringing in striker Nic Evangelinos. The pitch at Alvechurch looked in decent condition and the weather was good for the time of year. We were all set for a 12 noon kick off in this Midland Football League Premier Division match.
Sphinx started the match the stronger of the two sides as they retained possession well and looked to make early inroads into the hosts defence. A very promising start from Sphinx as they were knocking the ball around well and Evangelinos and Cain up front were causing real problems for the Alvechurch defence. We were midway through the first half before Alvechurch started to get into the game but even then they were unable to test the Sphinx keeper O’Neill. Sphinx were still looking slick in possession and their build up play was patient as they probed for an opening. Evangelinos was looking a real livewire up front and the midfield were thriving on the quality runs being made by their forwards. Evangelinos was looking the most likely to score and he saw a 20 yard effort fly over the bar. Sphinx were playing the ball out from the back and through their midfield where Luke Downes was playing in a deep midfield position in an effort to pull the strings for the team. Sphinx deserved to be in front as we approached half time with the scores at 0-0 and just as we thought we were going into the break goalless, up popped EVANGELINOS to thump home a left footer into the top corner. The keeper had no chance and it was no more than the Sphinx performance had deserved.
HALF TIME: ALVECHURCH 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
Alvechurch started the half with a brief spell of territorial advantage but Sphinx defended well and were soon back into their stride as they looked to increase their lead. Just 7 minutes into the half and they deservedly doubled their lead. A Cain corner was delivered with his usual quality and Wilks rose highest to fire a powerful downward header towards goal. The keeper managed to block it but WILKS was quickest to react to stab the ball home. 2-0 to The Sphinx and a great position to be in away from home. There was still plenty to do to win the match but the game carried on in the same vein with Sphinx having more possession and showing good quality on the ball. Some more good play from the visitors led to Evangelinos receiving the ball outside the box and he did well to give himself a yard to get a good shot away that was well saved by Platt in the Alvechurch goal. It looked like the next Sphinx goal was only a matter of time and the next chance saw Downes shoot wide after some good play had presented him with the chance. On 67 minutes the third goal came courtesy of Jackson DOWNIE. Downie started a run on the left of the penalty box and Downes slid a lovely ball through for him to collect in the penalty box. DOWNIE skipped inside the defender with his first touch and finished neatly under the keeper with his second to make it 3-0 and surely game over. Alvechurch were now looking a beaten side and Sphinx could smell blood and were pushing for more goals. A rare attack from the home side saw them hit the bar in the 77th minute and the rebound was comfortably caught by O’Neill. This didn’t interrupt Sphinx’s rhythm and they were straight back on the attack which saw Cain shoot over when well placed. Cain’s performance had deserved a goal and he didn’t have to wait long for it. CAIN burst through down the middle and the Alvechurch defence failed to clear the danger which ended with Ash Cain shooting into an empty net in the 89th minute to put the gloss on a fine team performance. That was the best 90 minute performance I have seen from Coventry Sphinx this season and that is now 5 games unbeaten in the league for them. Sphinx have been improving throughout the season and they now appear to be getting some consistency in their game too.
FULL TIME: ALVECHURCH 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 4
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jackson Downie
Plenty of candidates to choose from today with the defence having a clean sheet to their name and the team scoring 4 goals. O’Neill had a quiet afternoon but did nothing wrong when called upon in the Sphinx goal. The two full backs, Rooney and Dainty, defended well and supported the attacks at every opportunity. Wilks and Taylor were solid at centre back and looked to play the ball out to their midfield at every opportunity. Downes was looking to dictate play in the centre of the park and had a good game again as well as Jamie Newton who put in his best performance since joining the club recently. Cain gives the side pace and flair and he contributed well to the team again. Evangelinos was excellent up front as he links the play, provides us with a threat in behind and finishes well when given the chance. Having said all that, my Man of the Match was Jackson Downie. He was quite frankly outstanding. A quality goal aside, he was a threat in attacking areas with his skill and eye for a pass and he got around the pitch tremendously well to influence the game. Well done Jackson and he was part of a team performance to be proud of so if all the players maintain that attitude and belief then we are in for a strong finish to the season.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, ROONEY, DAINTY (Dodds 75 mins), BAXTER, WILKS (Bishop 72 mins), TAYLOR, NEWTON, DOWNIE, EVANGELINOS (Jaynes 80 mins), CAIN, L.DOWNES
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture – Away KIRBY MUXLOE Saturday January 3rd 3pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN