A long trip for Coventry Sphinx as we made our way to Hereford to take on a Westfields side with a strong home record. The players travelled down on a coach alongside the back room staff and fans which was laid on by the club free of charge which was a marvellous gesture and much appreciated by the fans. Manager Luke Hopkins made four changes to the side after Monday evenings heroic ten man performance against Quorn. Jamie Newton returned to the side in place of Jacob Dodds and the other three changes were all enforced due to the unavailability of key players Carl O’Neill, Matt Taylor and Luke Downes. Experienced goalkeeper Carl O’Neill was replaced by 21 year old debutant Martin Murphy. Centre back Taylor was replaced by another debutant Dan Prichard. 20 year old Prichard was signed the day before the game from Rugby Town. Finally, top scorer Luke Downes was replaced by club captain Ash Jackson in midfield. Jackson was not 100% fit but he stepped in to take his place in the team and provide it with some valuable experience.
Sphinx started sharply and within minutes they were posing a serious threat to the Westfields goal as Cain went on a driving run through the middle that was only stopped by a foul on the edge of the box. Cain’s free kick was saved by Rivers to give Sphinx a corner. Cain’s corner came back out to him and his chip to the back post was emphatically headed home by skipper Ashley JACKSON. A superb start for the visitors as they took the lead after just 4 minutes. The game developed into an even and competitive contest but neither side were seriously testing the keepers on a regular basis. Sphinx were looking at their most dangerous from corners and in the 18th minute Jackson again rose highest to cause chaos in the Westfields box that ended when Ricky Fletcher put the ball over the bar from close range. The Westfields equaliser was soon to come though as a slip from the Sphinx keeper allowed Cuss a straightforward finish. Westfields were lifted by the goal and within a couple of minutes the home side were in front as a cross from the right was glanced in by Lee. A quick fire double from the home side had put them 2-1 up after 24 minutes. Sphinx were playing well enough and they will certainly feel they didn’t deserve to be behind at this stage. Sphinx didn’t allow their heads to drop and were playing with confidence and determination as they looked for an equaliser. They failed to find their way through the Westfields defence before half time and defended well themselves to ensure there were no further goals as we went into half time.
HALF TIME; WESTFIELDS 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
The half was scrappy in the early stages as Westfields were just edging the play but Sphinx manager made an early substitution that was to turn the game in Sphinx’s favour. In the 57th minute Luke Hopkins introduced recent signing Aaron Opoku. His previous club was Hereford United and he is a big, strong striker with a turn of pace and he was just what Sphinx had needed in this match. His direct running was starting to cause the Westfields defence problems and just 9 minutes after he joined the play Coventry Sphinx were level. The ball came to young midfielder Jack ROONEY in a central position on the edge of the penalty box and he struck a sweet strike into the bottom corner to make it 2-2 after 68 minutes. Rooney’s first senior goal for the club and it’s been a long time coming! Sphinx now had the momentum and they were edging the contest as we went into the final stages. A strong run from Opoku saw him shrug off the attentions of a couple of defenders to make his way into the box and he did well to get a shot away. Good strong play from him and an example of the trouble he was giving the Westfields defence. Both sides were going for the three points and a point blank save by Murphy prevented Westfields from taking the lead. Sphinx were pressing hard for the winner and their best chance came from a corner a few minutes from the end as they put the loose ball over the bar. A point apiece was a fair result in the end but Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins would surely be happy with the efforts of his players.
FULL TIME: WESTFIELDS 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ash Jackson
Solid performances all over the pitch today. New boy Dan Prichard slotted into the centre of defence and played well considering he only joined the club the day before the match. His centre back partner Ricky Fletcher also performed well and is displaying good leadership qualities. Opoku came off the bench and added a new dimension to the Sphinx attack with his strength, direct running and aerial ability. However, my Man of the Match goes to captain Ash Jackson. For a man who was not match fit his performance was outstanding. He got around the midfield to lead his team by example with his work rate and will to win and scored with an excellent header.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: MURPHY, J.DOWNES, DAINTY, ROONEY (Jaynes 88 mins), FLETCHER, PRICHARD, DOWNIE, NEWTON, CAIN, CAREY (Opoku 57 mins), JACKSON (Hardwick 85 mins)
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
Home LYE TOWN Saturday 31st January 3pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN