The last match at Sphinx Drive was upon us but the main distraction of the day was the preparations for the presentation of the League Trophy to the Sphinx Youth team after the match. Five of that successful youth team were involved in today’s first team match and that is a measure of how well these young lads have done this season. Sphinx had little to play for but that was certainly not the case for their opponents. Dunkirk were putting up a valiant fight against relegation from the Midland Football League Premier Division and were desperate for the three points today.
The game started in a way that demonstrated which side were the more motivated to get a result as Sphinx struggled to get out of their own half in the opening exchanges. 9 minutes in and Dunkirk had their first serious opportunity as they thumped the bar with a far post header. Dunkirk certainly didn’t have the look of a side in the bottom three and were playing with confidence. Mid way through the half Dunkirk were still the dominant side but they couldn’t convert their advantage into goals. Half an hour had gone before Sphinx got a decent shot in and that was wide of the target after some good play from Downie had led to the shooting chance for Dodds. That was to be a one off as Dunkirk kept up the pressure and a sharp turn and shot went narrowly wide of the Sphinx goal. Sphinx were limited to a shot from Price which sailed over the bar and in the 43rd minute Carey showed the Dunkirk full back a clean pair of heels to force the visiting keeper into his first save of the match. There was still time for Dunkirk to force O’Neill into a great save as he kept out an excellent free kick. A disappointing display from Sphinx as Dunkirk had done more than enough to deserve the lead.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 DUNKIRK 0
Sphinx came out with more energy to their play but the improvement was short lived as within 7 minutes of the restart Dunkirk took the lead. Their first half performance had deserved it and it was Ellis who smashes in the loose ball after Sphinx had failed to clear. On the hour mark a rare chance for Sphinx came as Price was through on goal but he completely misjudged the bounce of the ball and failed to get a shot away. Luke Downes managed to get a shot away but the keeper was untroubled and there was little else to cheer as Dunkirk looked in full control. Dunkirk sealed the points in the 77th minute when Pitt steered in a right wing cross at the far post and Sphinx could have no complaints. A disappointing way to end the home campaign but credit must be given to Dunkirk as they played with positivity and confidence from the start and thoroughly deserved the points. Sphinx have work to do in the summer but the management are fully aware of that and I fully expect them to deliver the goods next season. The Youth team have contributed over 130 appearances to the first team this season and that experience will stand them in good stead next season. The addition of experience and quality will no doubt compliment the energy of the young players and I’m confident this season of transition will be worthwhile.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 DUNKIRK 2
MAN OF THE MATCH: KYLE CAREY
A tough call today after such a flat team performance. Goalkeeper Carl O’Neill did little wrong and his organisation from the back is outstanding. A couple of the Youth players caught my eye today. Callum Drake came off the bench and certainly didn’t look out of place at this level. He is a centre back and his reading of the game is his strong point and it was pleasing to see him take his opportunity so well. The other one who caught my eye and who is my Man of the Match is Kyle Carey. He started the match in his favoured position as a striker but a tactical change saw him deployed at right midfield. He got on with his work and gave us glimpses of his blistering pace and technical ability. He has progressed really well this season and I hope to see him as a regular in the first team squad next season.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, J.DOWNES (Jackson 61 mins), OPOKU (Drake 69 mins), TAYLOR, ROONEY, DOWNIE, CAIN, DODDS, PRICE, CAREY, L.DOWNES
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture: Away – Coleshill Town – Saturday 25th April, 3pm kick off