Wednesday night saw the much anticipated semi-final of the Birmingham FA County Youth Cup take place at Sphinx Drive with Boldmere St Michaels the visitors. The Youth team have had an impressive season so far and as the season draws to a close it was now time to convert performances and results into trophies. The pitch was in good condition and the weather was good so the scene was set for a big evening at Sphinx Drive. Stuart Fraser and Lynton Wilkinson led the team as usual and it looked a strong one tonight. It was good to see the injured Gabe Barnwell in the crowd to watch his team mates as well.
Sphinx came flying out of the traps and within 5 minutes they had 3 attempts on goal, all courtesy of striker Kyle Carey. The first effort was a speculative effort from long range but just a minute later he rattled the cross bar after some good work from Brad Hardwick on the left had set him up. His third opportunity was a reward for his hard work as he forced the keeper to miskick a clearance. The loose ball was well wide of the goal but Carey got in an effort only to see a back tracking defender clear the shot to safety. A highly promising start from Sphinx and they were attacking with real speed and skill. Boldmere were looking a decent side themselves as the game was developing into an enthralling contest. Then came the moment that would change the game but not in the way you would expect. In the 17th minute Sphinx striker Kyle Jaynes was dismissed from the field of play after a fierce challenge on a Boldmere defender. I firmly believe he went for the ball and didn’t set out to hurt the defender but he certainly used excessive force and could have no real complaints at the Red Card he received. The scores were 0-0 but Sphinx would now have to play over 70 minutes with ten men and without one of their main goal threats. As you can imagine, this changed the game but it was Sphinx who would become the better side. The dismissal had galvanised the team and within 6 minutes of the sending off they were in the lead thanks to a powerful header from centre back Jack ROONEY. Boldmere could not take advantage of the extra man and Sphinx were cutting to them to pieces on the break with Kyle Carey, Brad Hardwick and Jacob Dodds showing pace, skill and work rate in abundance. Carey was playing a lone strikers role and his work for the team was exceptional as he occupied the Boldmere defence single handed. The support he received from Brad Hardwick and Jacob Dodds in particular was of the highest quality and Boldmere were struggling to cope. On 37 minutes Coventry Sphinx doubled their lead with a well deserved goal for Kyle CAREY. He created the chance himself with some fine work in the penalty box and went on to thump in a shot off the post to the delight of his team mates and fans alike. Sphinx comfortably saw the game out to half time and could be immensely proud of their efforts so far.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX YOUTH 2 BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS YOUTH 0
Sphinx needed to maintain their performance levels in this half as I expected Boldmere to respond and start utilising their one man advantage. It was a relatively quiet start to the half, which no doubt suited Sphinx more than Boldmere. Sphinx were showing no signs of sitting back on their lead and were looking for more goals to press home their advantage. On the hour mark, Jack Downes went on a driving run through midfield that ended with the ball breaking for Carey who produced an accurate shot that the keeper did well to tip around the post for a corner. Shortly after this Sphinx had two glorious chances but the Boldmere keeper did well to save both efforts from one on one situations with Dodds and Carey respectively. There was now just 15 minutes to go and Sphinx produced another superb counter attack that saw Hardwick shoot over the bar. Dodds was replaced by Jane with 8 minutes to go after succumbing to cramp. The cramp problems he was suffering from was a clear example of the work the Sphinx team had got through to negate the ten men they had been playing with since the 17th minute. Boldmere needed to clear a Sphinx effort off the line to keep the score at 2-0 but minutes later Sphinx got the third goal with a goal from the brilliant Kyle CAREY. He outpaced the Boldmere defence to calmly slip the ball past the Boldmere keeper in the 87th minute and that was surely game over. Not quite, because a minute later Theobald in the Sphinx goal pulled off a tremendous save as Boldmere wouldn’t lie down and as we entered injury time Boldmere got themselves what appeared to be a consolation goal. Sphinx were dispossessed from kick off and Boldmere grabbed a second in the 92nd minute to set up a tense finish. The tension was highlighted with a melee in the centre of the pitch that resulted in two Boldmere players receiving Red Cards for their part in the incident and shortly after this the referee blew the full time whistle to signal scenes of delight at Sphinx Drive as the Youth Team had secured their place in the Cup Final. The scoreline flattered the visitors in the end as they were well beaten by a talented and determined Sphinx side who had responded magnificently to being reduced to ten men so early in the game.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 3 BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS YOUTH 2
MAN OF THE MATCH: KYLE CAREY
There were Man of the Match performances all over the pitch as every single one of the players did themselves, the club and the city of Coventry proud. Goalkeeper Tom Theobald was solid throughout and his improvement through the season has been noticeable. The central defensive pair of Luke Seery and Jack Rooney were excellent. The full backs, Tayler Dodds and Jack Quinney were solid throughout. The midfield pair of Jack Downes and James Searle both showed a willingness to work, tackle and pass the ball quickly and accurately. The exceptional performances of the night came from the attacking trio of Jacob Dodds, Brad Hardwick and Kyle Carey. Pace, flair, skill, attitude, graft… you name it, they had it. They gave the Boldmere defence a torrid time all night but I’m going to single out Kyle Carey for Man of the Match. After being reduced to ten men, Carey led the line on his own and he was quite frankly sensational and to stand out in such a good team performance tells you all you need to know about him. He has already made some appearances for the Coventry Sphinx first team and if he carries on like that then he is sure to make many more.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: THEOBALD, QUINNEY, T.DODDS, SEARLE, SEERY, ROONEY, HARDWICK, DOWNES, JAYNES, CAREY (Wynt 88 mins), J.DODDS (Jane 82 mins)