The divisions’ form side left Sphinx Drive empty handed as Sphinx took three deserved points. Lye Town arrived in Coventry having won their last seven league games and in fact the last time they had failed to get maximum points was as far back as November. This run of form had lifted them to second place in the Midland Football League Premier Division and firmly in the title hunt. Sphinx themselves have an excellent home record, were unbeaten in the last three games and their recent form hadn’t secured the points their performances had deserved. Clearly we had an interesting game on our hands today but Sphinx were not helped by the absence of three key players. Centre back Matt Taylor, left back Gio Dainty and midfielder and top scorer Luke Downes were all unavailable so today was a test of the strength of the squad as much as anything else. However, there was a welcome return in goal for another key player Carl O’Neill. A fine performance in the Youth team on Thursday from Jacob Dodds saw him return to the starting line up and an excellent substitute performance at Westfields saw striker Aaron Opoku earn his first start for the club today. A youthful looking side once again but one I felt could give Lye Town a game.
It was a scrappy start to the game as the sides battled for supremacy in midfield. Lye Town were edging the possession and territory but neither keeper had much to worry about. It was the 15th minute before a keeper had to make a save but Sphinx keeper O’Neill dealt with the long range shot comfortably. One moment of real note was a big penalty shout for Lye Town as Dan Prichard slid in to tackle the Lye striker bearing down on goal. The referee waved away the vigorous appeals from the visitors and Sphinx took full advantage when they took the lead in the 34th minute. A typical Downie run was halted by a foul near the edge of the box and Cain and Jackson stood over the dead ball for the free kick. It was a perfect position for a left footer and skipper Ash JACKSON stepped up to hit a tremendous effort into the top corner to leave Stevens in the Lye Town goal with no chance. That was the 7th goal of the season for Jackson which is an excellent return for a defensive player. That was the first serious chance for either side and it was a goal of real quality to break the deadlock. The goal lifted Sphinx’s confidence and they had more of the play for the remaining ten minutes of the half as they looked to increase their advantage. Both sides were defending well and battling hard and we went into the interval with the home side a goal in front.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 LYE TOWN 0
Sphinx had no intention of playing for the 1-0 win and within 5 minutes of the restart they came agonisingly close to increasing their lead after Jamie Newton won the ball back high up the field and burst through the centre of the visitors defence only to see his shot crash off the post. Sphinx were brimming with confidence and in the 61st minute they doubled their lead with a goal of sensational quality. 19 year old midfielder Jackson DOWNIE surged through the middle with a run full of skill, strength and determination and finished with a quality strike that was arguably one of the best goals you are likely to see at Sphinx Drive this season. 2-0 to the home side and they were combining good attacking play with organised and determined defending to hold the lead. Impressive stuff from Coventry Sphinx but Lye Town were not so high up the table for nothing and Sphinx were having to work hard for everything they got. The 70th minute saw the first Sphinx substitution as Youth player Brad Hardwick replaced Jacob Dodds to bring fresh legs to the right side of midfield. Sphinx were edging the contest but one goal back for Lye Town at this stage would set up a grandstand finish. Sphinx were protecting their lead with incredible energy but were looking dangerous in possession especially Jackson Downie who was having an excellent match. It was Downie who threatened again as a mazy run through the middle resulted in him hitting a powerful shot just over the bar. Youth team strikers Kyle Carey and Kyle Jaynes came on for the last 5 or 10 minutes to give the team renewed energy and their contribution should not be underestimated. The pair of them have shown enough to me to give me great confidence they will make very good footballers indeed. As we entered the dying minutes of the match Sphinx showed great maturity to see the game out and secure an impressive and hard fought victory over very tough opposition.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 LYE TOWN 0
MAN OF THE MATCH: JACKSON DOWNIE
Every single player contributed to the cause today and the team spirit is outstanding but there were some performances that really caught my eye. Recent recruit Aaron Opoku is an 18 year old striker who has incredible strength and his ball retention as he dropped deeper into midfield was excellent so a good performance from him on his first start for the club. Jamie Newton displayed incredible work rate to protect his defence and even found time to get forward to hit the post. He was unlucky not to score and showed good leadership qualities too. Ricky Fletcher was in top form at centre back and led the defence with determination and quality but my Man of the Match is Jackson Downie. It’s not often people go out of their way to tell me who their Man of the Match was but after the match a number of people did just that and every single one said Jackson Downie. He was outstanding and dominated the midfield with his work and skill. He scored a cracker of a goal and when he is on this form he is a joy to watch.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
0’NEILL, ROONEY (Jaynes 86 mins), JACKSON, NEWTON, FLETCHER, PRICHARD, J.DOWNES, DOWNIE, OPOKU (Carey 84 mins), CAIN, DODDS (Hardwick 70 mins)
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
Away TIPTON TOWN Saturday 7th February 3pm kick off
#UTS #UPTHESPHINX #12THMAN