Coventry Sphinx were punished by a strong Barwell side at a wet Sphinx Drive on Friday night. Our visitors play in the Evostik Northern Premier League (two levels above Sphinx) and it showed as they punished defensive errors clinically to secure victory.
Coventry Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins started with a strong side which benefited from the return of Luke Downes from holiday. Downes played just behind the striker Mitch Piggon and the midfield now took on a familiar look with the four new signings of Thomson, Blythe, Banks and Bates. The defence is still settling down as new signing Myles Jones (Southam) came in at centre back alongside Matt Taylor. Jackson Downie once again took the right back slot after playing as an attacking midfielder last season and the versatile Jack Rooney occupied the left back position.
The initial stages of the match were played at a good tempo and the persistent rain was sure to contribute to the football played tonight. The first clear chance came for Barwell as Iseyden Christie rounded O’Neill in the Sphinx goal and looked certain to score until Jones, sweeping behind the keeper, intervened to comfortably clear the goal bound effort. Sphinx’s first chance of note came with a swift counter attack as Thomson steamed forward on the right and cut back the ball to Bates who hit his first time shot well but found it blocked by a sliding defender. Both sides were attacking with real purpose but it was Barwell who were to break the deadlock in the 18th minute. Good work down the left saw them get to the by-line where a simple cross across the face of goal was tapped in by a grateful Christie. A good, even contest continued until the 25th minute when Barwell doubled their lead with a very straightforward goal. A corner was delivered into the six yard box where Declan Towers rose highest to head in to make it 2-0 to the visitors. Barwell then had a short spell of domination before Sphinx created a superb chance thanks to a beautiful through ball from Bates that set up Downes for an effort that curled just outside the post. Sphinx went close again after strong play from Piggon saw his cross fly across the face of goal with Bates inches away from getting a toe to it. Sphinx were looking lively in attacking areas but a rare error from Taylor in the Sphinx defence presented Barwell with a third goal to effectively put the game out of reach. Christie was the man to take advantage as he thumped in his second of the match from close range to make it Sphinx 0 Barwell 3 in the 37th minute. Harsh on Sphinx who had played well in the first half but Barwell were clinical with their chances and that was the difference between the sides as we went into half time.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 BARWELL 3
Minutes into the second half Sphinx had an opportunity to pull a goal back from a free kick on the edge of the box but the effort from Bates was well saved by Castle. Sphinx then started to introduce their substitutes as Bates made way for Jack Jeyes. The scoreline made the result inevitable but both sides kept at it in what was a good work out for both teams. The rash of substitutions from both managers broke up the flow of the game in the second half but Barwell were the better side in this half. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins gave some important game time to a couple of new players and four more of last season’s youth team got some minutes on the pitch as Dodds, Jaynes, Drake and Jack Downes joined the action. One more goal was added as Kevin Thornton got a goal his performance had deserved in the 71st minute. Two goals from Iseyden Christie and one from Kevin Thornton meant 3 of the goals scored tonight came from players that Coventry City fans will be familiar with! Overall it was a reasonable performance from Sphinx but a spell in the first half where Barwell took full advantage of their opportunities was the difference. Playing a good side from two divisions above will certainly provide more information to the manager than playing against weaker sides and despite the scoreline, I would suggest there isn’t too much to worry about from the Sphinx point of view. As for Barwell, I was very impressed with them and I’m sure they will have a good season after they provided Coventry Sphinx with their toughest test of pre-season so far.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 BARWELL 4
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: O’NEILL, DOWNIE, JONES, TAYLOR, ROONEY, BLYTHE, BANKS, THOMSON, BATES, L.DOWNES, PIGGON.
Subs used: Jeyes, Bishop, Dodds, Jaynes, Drake, J.Downes
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture: HOME – CADBURY ATHLETIC, Monday 27th July, 7.45pm kick off