Bank Holiday Monday at Sphinx Drive is always a good occasion and with the sun shining on a good crowd we were all set for Coventry Sphinx v Alvechurch. Sphinx have a good recent record against Alvechurch but they were in a poor run of form prior to today. The important thing today was the result rather than the performance as Sphinx needed to finish the season strongly to go into the summer on a high. There was good news for boss Luke Hopkins as Number 1 keeper Carl O’Neill returned to the side and winger Ash Cain also returned. More experience came into the team as Gio Dainty returned from suspension at left back and finally Dec Price got his first start after recently joining from Kenilworth Town. Price got his chance after bagging a brace in a friendly against Folly Lane during the week. Hopkins also had a bench full of young talent to call upon if required.
Sphinx started the stronger as they pushed for an early goal and the visitors were restricted to playing on the break. Alvechurch soon got into the game and the first real chance fell to them. An excellent cross came in from the right and Williams met it well but could only head it straight at O’Neill in the Sphinx goal. A good game of football was developing and it was a fairly even contest. As the half wore on Sphinx started to gain the upper hand and a good piece of play presented Quinn with an opportunity midway through the half. Rooney had charged forward from right back to deliver a low cross that was controlled well by Carey and this led to Quinn firing a effort just wide. Quinn was getting around the midfield superbly and he certainly looks a good signing having recently joined Sphinx from Nuneaton Town. Sphinx were maintaining the advantage but couldn’t find the goal their play had deserved. That was soon to change as five minutes before half time they took the lead. Price got the goal but he can thank his strike partner Kyle Carey for that after some brilliant wing play from the young striker put the ball on a plate for Price to net his first goal from his first start for Sphinx. A deserved lead for Sphinx as we went into half time but they would need to maintain their performance levels to get the result they wanted.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 ALVECHURCH 0
It was Sphinx who were the first to threaten as Cain went on a great run through the middle but just as he got into a prime position to shoot he lost full control of the ball. The ball still found its way to Dainty, who had burst forward from left back, but he blazed his effort over the bar. A promising start to the half from Sphinx but it was Alvechurch who would have the better of things for the next 15 minutes. Alvechurch got in an effort that was cleared by Luke Downes and the resulting corner needed O’Neill to be alert to save at the near post. Sphinx were defending well against the resurgent Alvechurch but the visitors soon faded and Sphinx were looking reasonably comfortable. Just after the hour mark Carey once again demonstrated good hold up play to free Luke Downes and his attempt on goal was blocked by Edwards in the Alvechurch goal. The loose ball came back out to Price who attempted a first time chip but his effort sailed over the bar as the keeper was stranded off his line. Price made way for Opoku on 73 minutes as Manager Hopkins introduced fresh legs up front and this was soon added to as Dodds replaced the impressive Carey. Sphinx were looking the better side but with only a one goal lead to show for their efforts it was set to be a nervy finish for the majority of the 150 crowd. Young midfielder Jackson Downie had had a superb game and he was still full of running as went into the final minutes. A mazy run from him saw him brought down on the edge of the box as Alvechurch struggled to cope with his close ball control. Cain stepped up to thump the free kick against the base of the post as Sphinx looked the most likely to get the second goal. Downie wasn’t finished yet as he unleashed a rocket of a shot that was superbly kept out by Edwards in the 90th minute. A late free kick for Alvechurch led to an anxious final minute but Sphinx defended well again to earn a clean sheet and a much needed 3 points.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 ALVECHURCH 0
MAN OF THE MATCH: MATT TAYLOR
A good team performance that had work rate, team spirit and good football. Three things that I associate with Sphinx and when they combine all of these qualities they are a good side. Youth striker Kyle Carey has recently been getting starts for the first team and he is improving rapidly. He has skill, pace and is showing us his ability at holding up the ball as well. Carey is certainly a good prospect and I’m sure he has a good future ahead of him. Jackson Downie gave us an all round midfield performance that was full of energy. He is skilful, a tough tackler and he was a prominent figure today. Quinn and Luke Downes were also good in the midfield and Cain provided his usual threat on the right. The clean sheet was the key to victory today and the back four are looking like a good unit. With the experience of O’Neill behind them they played a huge part in the win. I’m going to single out Matt Taylor for particular praise today. Sphinx always look better defensively with him in the back four. Taylor read the game superbly today and he steps out of defence with the ball with a touch of class.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, ROONEY, DAINTY, FLETCHER, TAYLOR, QUINN, CAIN, DOWNIE, CAREY (Dodds 79 mins), L.DOWNES, PRICE (Opoku 73 mins)
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture: Away – Stourport Swifts – Saturday 11th April, 3pm kick off