This was the last midweek away trip for Coventry Sphinx and Tipton were sure to be difficult opponents. Tipton have found some good form of late as they put up a spirited fight against relegation. Sphinx were playing for pride and it was a contest I was eagerly anticipating. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins made two changes with the unavailable Ricky Fletcher replaced by youngster Jack Downes. Jack Rooney moved across to centre back to cover the absent Fletcher and Jack Downes slotted in at right back to replace Rooney. Centre midfielder Ryan Quinn was also unavailable and he was replaced by the returning Ashley Cain. Cain took up his usual position of right wing which allowed Luke Downes to renew his centre midfield partnership with Jackson Downie. An attacking looking line up for Sphinx and a sign that they fully intended to play on the front foot tonight.
We had barely settled into our positions before Sphinx took an early lead in the 4th minute. Jack Downes slid a perfect pass through to Dec PRICE who stroked the ball under the advancing Tipton keeper to give Sphinx a dream start. There are goals in this Tipton side lately so there was still plenty to do for the visitors. Just a minute later Sphinx came close to a second when Cain delivered a top draw cross for Price at the far post but his powerful header was well blocked by Hayfield in the Tipton goal. Tipton soon settled down and were providing an attacking threat of their own. Tipton striker Singh was looking dangerous as he looked for space to receive the ball to the left and was attacking the Sphinx right back Jack Downes at every opportunity. Sphinx were playing with a real positivity and they are clearly at their best when they play this way. O’Neill was his usual vocal self in goal as he was a constant guide to his defence and Luke Downes and Jackson Downie were looking back to their best in the centre of the park. Ash Cain was looking up for the game tonight and was proving a thorn in Tipton’s side down the right. Both sides looked strong going forward and goals were looking likely. The next goal was the Tipton equaliser as Singh did very well on the left to beat his man and picked out Pugh in the penalty box who made no mistake with his finish on 30 minutes. Sphinx responded in the right way and shrugged off the equaliser to retake the lead in the 38th minute and what a goal it was! Sphinx were awarded a free kick in a central position a good 25 yards out from goal. The in form CAIN stepped up to hit a ferocious curling effort into the top corner to leave the Tipton keeper grasping at thin air. A tremendous strike from Cain and that’s just the sort thing he has in his locker. 2-1 to Sphinx and despite the attacking intentions from both sides that was how it remained until half time.
HALF TIME: TIPTON TOWN 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
Sphinx started the second half strongly with a determined run and shot from left winger Jacob Dodds and a minute later Price was through on goal but his shot was saved by the legs of Hayfield in the Tipton goal. The strong start was rewarded in the 53rd minute when Jackson DOWNIE met a brilliant Cain cross to extend the lead to 3-1. It wasn’t the cleanest of contacts from Downie but his header had enough on it to loop over the keeper and nestle in the net. Tipton responded immediately with a goal back to leave the score standing at Tipton Town 2 Coventry Sphinx 3 after just 54 minutes. It was a thrilling game that was end to end and in the 59th minute Sphinx were inches away from extending their lead as a Jackson Downie strike crashed back off the bar. Luke Downes then did very well to create himself some space to unleash a shot that went just over the Tipton bar. Tipton were still looking highly dangerous themselves and they got their equaliser in the 67th minute thanks to Stewart. It was breathless stuff now as both sides were going all out for the winner. The closest Sphinx got was another Ashley Cain free kick that Hayfield tipped over to keep the scores level. Either side could have won it but a draw was a fair result in the end as both teams contributed to a thoroughly entertaining Midland Football League Premier Division match. A much improved attacking display from Sphinx as they got back to doing what they do best. They played with energy and a desire to out score their opponents and with Tipton displaying similar characteristics it made for a superb contest. Tipton certainly don’t have the look of a side in the relegation places.
FULL TIME: TIPTON TOWN 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 3
MAN OF THE MATCH: ASHLEY CAIN
Sphinx attacked well as a team as the more settled look to the side is paying off. Both Luke Downes and Jackson Downie in centre midfield provided Sphinx with energy, skill and a goal threat from midfield. Dec Price is settling into the team well and certainly had his chances to add to his early goal but my Man of the Match is Ashley Cain. He was lively on the right wing from the first minute to the last and the goal he scored was exceptional. He brings that little bit of experience to the team and his delivery from set pieces is always good.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, J.DOWNES, DAINTY, ROONEY, TAYLOR, DOWNIE, CAIN, DODDS, PRICE, CAREY (Opoku 75 mins), L.DOWNES
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture: HOME – DUNKIRK – Saturday 18th April, 3pm kick off