In form Rocester were the visitors to Sphinx Drive as Coventry Sphinx looked to build on last weeks away win at Brocton. Unsurprisingly, Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins named an unchanged side to take on Rocester. On the bench, there was a welcome return for defender Matt Taylor alongside Youth team players Jack Downes and Kyle Jaynes. Recent signing Connor McEnroe also took a place amongst the substitutes as he awaited his chance to show us what he can do. A gusty and swirling wind was evident but the pitch looked in decent condition for this Midland Football League Premier Division match.
Sphinx were quick out of the blocks and within two minutes Ash Cain was testing Froggatt in the visitors goal after showing good pace through the middle. Almost immediately, Jacob Dodds broke through the middle himself but shot wide when well placed. Sphinx couldn’t maintain the strong start after catching Rocester cold and the game soon settled down into a midfield battle with few chances of note for either side. The game was struggling to come to life but in the 22nd minute Rocester forced Pond into a good save. This was the start of 10 minutes of dominance from Rocester but Sphinx defended well and Rocester were denied any serious attempts on goal. Sphinx replied with a good bit of football themselves as an excellent ball from Dainty picked out Dodds in the box who controlled it first time to get away a firm shot with his second touch but Froggatt reacted well to save with his legs to keep the scores at 0-0. As we closed in on half time there were a couple of chances for Sphinx to take the lead. Initially, a good cross from Dodds was met by captain Ash Jackson but his long range header flew over the bar. Then Opoku showed his strength to get on the end of a bouncing ball but his effort was again well saved by Froggatt to ensure we went into the break goal-less. Sphinx had most of the chances but could never really get a grip on the game. Rocester had defended reasonably well and looked well organised so it was a fair scoreline that took us into half time.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 ROCESTER 0
A disastrous start to the second half for Sphinx as within 50 seconds of the restart they were behind. Rocester took full advantage of a defensive mistake from Prichard out wide to fire in a cross that was tapped in by a grateful Scott Staniland to put Rocester 1-0 up. Sphinx would need to step up their game to get back into this now and manager Luke Hopkins didn’t take long to make changes as Matt Taylor came on in an unfamiliar centre midfield position to replace Mewies. Taylor is usually deployed at centre back but his quality on the ball would no doubt suit this position. Just a minute later Sphinx had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside. A Cain corner had been half cleared to Luke Downes on the edge of the box and his powerful drive could only be parried into the path of the waiting Ash Jackson but he was offside and the effort was ruled out. Soon after this there was a great chance for Jackson to equalise but his header was straight at a relieved Froggatt after an excellent flick on from Ricky Fletcher had set him up. This was much better from Sphinx as they started to look a threat on the Rocester goal. Jack Downes was the next to come off the bench as he replaced Dodds in the 57th minute and seconds later the visitors had doubled the lead with another soft goal. Rob Ritchie-Smith fired in a corner that somehow found it’s way into the net at the near post. It was Tom Land who appeared to be receiving the congratulations of his team mates but it was Ritchie-Smith who was credited with the goal. Either way, it was 2-0 to Rocester and Sphinx were really up against it now. Sphinx were not at their best but they are not the types to give up and minutes after the goal a strong run from Aaron Opoku won a corner for his side. The corner wasn’t cleared properly and Jack Downes struck an excellent effort that was saved superbly by Froggatt in the Rocester goal. Another corner followed and Ash Jackson again had the ball in the net but he had fouled the keeper in the process so again it was rightly ruled out. That was the end of Sphinx’s short spell of pressure and Rocester were now closing out the game well. Three minutes from time Sphinx gave themselves a glimmer of hope after Ricky Fletcher smashed in a loose ball from a corner. It wasn’t enough however and the closest we got to another goal was from Rocester as Curtis Pond produced a fine double save in the 90th minute after Sphinx had left themselves exposed in their search for an equaliser. A disappointing defeat for Sphinx but the combination of conceding soft goals and not putting away your chances will never end well. Rocester put in a solid performance and can be pleased with coming away from Sphinx Drive with three points because not many teams do that.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 ROCESTER 2
MAN OF THE MATCH: ASH JACKSON
Curtis Pond, the young keeper on loan from Chasetown, is improving with every game and there was nothing he could do about either goal. Curtis Pond is certainly proving to be an adequate replacement for the injured Carl O’Neill. Jack Rooney was full of energy at right back and is looking more confident going forward too so credit to him for adjusting so well to another position. Ricky Fletcher marshalled the defence well again and also got his first goal of the season. However, my Man of the Match is captain Ash Jackson. Whether he is playing left back or centre midfield you know you will get effort and desire from him. He was a goal threat today too and was unfortunate to finish on the losing side.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: POND, ROONEY, JACKSON, MEWIES (Taylor 54 mins), FLETCHER, PRICHARD ( Jaynes 81 mins), CAIN, DODDS (J. Downes 57 mins), OPOKU, L.DOWNES, DAINTY
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture: Away – CONTINENTAL STAR Saturday 14th March, 3pm