A tough away match in Stafford after back to back heavy defeats meant a real test of character for the squad today. Before the game I would have been satisfied with a decent performance and a point against a Brocton side with a good home record. The Sphinx way is not to play for draws however so manager Luke Hopkins made two changes to the side beaten by Basford and went with two up front in a positive move for three points. The quick youth team striker Jacob Dodds came in for midfielder Jamie Newton and young striker Aaron Opoku came in for Jackson Downie. Newton’s original replacement was 16 year old striker Kyle Jaynes but he felt a tight hamstring in the warm up which opened the door for Dodds to start. Really unlucky for Jaynes but the fact the manager had the faith in him to want him to start the match should be a confidence boost alone. Opoku is a big, strong and quick striker with great potential and I was particularly pleased to see him get a start today. The Brocton pitch looked in really good condition and that would suit Sphinx’s style of play so plenty of reasons to be positive.
The weather was ideal for good football as we got underway and both sides started slowly as they probed away at each others defences. After conceding the first goal and falling to comprehensive defeats in their last two games, it was important that Sphinx started sensibly. That was exactly what they did as they kept their defensive shape well and looked to attack whenever the opportunity arose. Luke Downes, playing in a central midfield position, was the first to threaten as he went on one of his trademark runs to link up with Opoku but Opoku’s return pass just failed to pick out Downes who had continued his run into the box. Unlucky for Downes but a few minutes later he went another run from a similar position and this time he slid in Dainty on the left who shot over the bar when well placed. It was a well balanced game as both sides looked to play decent football on a good pitch but neither keeper had been over worked so far. Jacob Dodds was growing into the game as he was looking to utilise his pace and he was starting to produce some good wing play, particularly down the left. Dodds got on the end of a cross himself after a decent delivery from Cain on the right who had been sent away by a good ball down the line from Jack Rooney at right back. Half an hour gone and we were goal less but Sphinx were starting to look more of a threat which coincided with Aaron Opoku getting more involved. Opoku has great strength and pace and he was starting to show us what he is capable of. It was just this type of play from Opoku that led to the opening goal just before half time. A strong run at the heart of the Brocton defence by Opoku saw him find Dodds in the box and the quick feet of Dodds was too much for the Brocton defender who brought him down for a penalty. Cain picked up the ball but skipper Ash JACKSON took the responsibility to send the keeper the wrong way to put Coventry Sphinx 1-0 up on the stroke of half time. A level scoreline would have been fair at half time but Sphinx were more than happy to go into the break a goal to the good.
HALF TIME: BROCTON 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
The goal had given Sphinx a confidence boost and it showed early on in the second half. Cain was coming inside more to get more involved with the play and within seven minutes of the half it paid off for Sphinx. A great strike from Cain was pushed out for a corner by the Brocton keeper and it was Cain who went out to the left to take it. CAIN sent in a quality in-swinging ball that managed to evade everyone to go in at the near post. A moment of fortune for the Sphinx but it was the delivery from Cain that had put the Brocton defence in trouble. 2-0 up with 52 minutes on the clock and Sphinx were in a good position to claim victory. Brocton soon removed any thoughts of a comfortable win as within two minutes they had a goal back. A free kick was chipped in from the right and Hardiman was the first to meet the cross to head in. The deficit reduced for the home side to make it 2-1 on 54 minutes. Just minutes later, Evans cut in from the left wing to slam a shot against the post as Brocton were inches away from an equaliser. The game was really coming to life now and Cain was looking particularly lively when he moved into more central areas. Manager Luke Hopkins made his first change as youngster Jacob Dodds made way for Jackson Downie. On his day, Downie is capable of changing games and he certainly looked up for it today. He immediately went on a run through the middle of the home defence but the keeper just got there first to eliminate the danger. We were 73 minutes into the game now and the next effort came from Luke Downes as Sphinx pressed for a third. Downes effort was deflected just wide for a corner but Sphinx would continue in their quest to find another goal to secure the result. Brocton were by no means out of it but the Sphinx defence stood up to their threat well and when they were breached Curtis Pond was playing well in the Sphinx goal to keep them out. With less than ten minutes to go, Sphinx got the crucial third with the lively Downie at the heart of things again. Brocton couldn’t clear their box and OPOKU pounced on the loose ball to stab home despite the keeper getting a touch on it. A goal that Opoku had deserved after getting better and better as the game went on. The fresh looking DOWNIE was to get himself a goal in the 90th minute as hit a crisp 20 yard drive into the bottom corner to cap an important win for Sphinx. That was much better from Sphinx today and hopefully we can maintain form to finish the season well.
FULL TIME: BROCTON 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 4
MAN OF THE MATCH: DAN PRICHARD
Some decent performances today and all are worth a mention today.
CURTIS POND – His second game for the club and the young keeper is settling in well. He is a giant of a man and has performed well in the absence of Carl O’Neill
JACK ROONEY – Now playing at right back, he always gives his all for the team wherever he plays and it’s easy to forget he still plays Youth football as well.
ASH JACKSON – The captain and rightly so. He leads his team well whether he is playing left back or centre midfield. Dispatched the penalty very calmly.
KURTIS MEWIES – A recent signing who adds a bit of bite to the midfield and had his best game for the club today
DAN PRICHARD – Another recent signing who is forming a decent partnership with Ricky Fletcher at centre back. He was excellent defensively today and his distribution was very good too
RICKY FLETCHER – Almost ever present at centre back since his return from Bedworth and often doesn’t get the credit his performances deserve. He organises the back line well and is a good reader of the game. Played well today
ASHLEY CAIN – Always a threat with his pace, strength and skill and today he helped protect his right back defensively. Good to see him get on the score sheet too
JACOB DODDS – Still making the transition from Youth football but his pace and enthusiasm is there for all to see. Can play up front or out wide and his quick feet won the penalty
AARON OPOKU – Joined us recently and the big, strong teenager has bags of potential. When he’s on his game, defenders struggle to live with his pace and power. Came very close to getting Man of the Match and deserved his goal
LUKE DOWNES – A key player in the team and played a central midfield role today. Works hard and has a lovely touch with good vision for a pass. Has a dangerous shot on him and is this season’s top scorer as a result
GIO DAINTY – Whether he is at left back or left midfield, you will always get a performance out of him. Solid as usual today
JACKSON DOWNIE (on for Dodds 66 mins) – Superb in attacking areas today and his ability on the ball is second to none in this squad. A match winner on his day and not afraid of mixing it either (too much sometimes as his forthcoming suspension demonstrates!)
CONNOR McENROE (on for Mewies 76 mins) – A new signing who plays on the left and looks a good player from what we have seen of him so far
KYLE JAYNES (on for Opoku 90 mins) – A youth striker who has deserved his place in the first team squad. Fearless and loves a tackle and doesn’t give defenders a minutes rest. So unlucky not to start today
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
HOME – ROCESTER Saturday 7th March