The last pre-season friendly at Sphinx Drive on Monday night saw the arrival of MFL Division One club Cadbury Athletic. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins started with a strong looking line up but the major change was a switch in formation to 3-5-2. New signing Myles Jones was at the centre of a back three with Ash Jackson and Matt Taylor either side of him. Mitchell Thomson and Luke Downes took up the wide midfield positions in what looked like a very attacking line up.
There was an incredibly high tempo to the game initially and I would imagine both managers would have been pleased with that as they looked to build up the fitness and sharpness of their players. Sphinx were looking to move the ball quickly but Cadbury were up to the task and despite the energy on display chances were hard to come by. The first chance of note came when Sphinx defender Ash Jackson burst forward and hit a thunderous shot that took a slight deflection to crash against the bar before bouncing down onto the goal-line. Despite the appeals, the referee waved play on and no goal was given. A close call for the visitors but it was Cadbury who got the next chance as the game started to open up. Sphinx keeper Carl O’Neill dealt with the one on one well to keep the scores at 0-0. Sphinx were now starting to get some control of the game and the chances were starting to come for them. A curling left footer from Thomson went just wide of the upright and Piggon got away a decent effort from the edge of the box. Arguably the best chance of the lot came from a big O’Neill clearance that was helped on by Piggon into the path of Jack Jeys who lifted his shot over the bar when well placed. The pressure told in the end as a trademark run and drive from Luke Downes saw the ball nestle in the bottom corner to give Coventry Sphinx the lead in the 33rd minute. Cadbury were well in this game still but there was one more chance for Sphinx before the break. Some fine play between Thomson and Bates released Piggon down the left and his shot whistled just past the far post from a tight angle. A good first half performance from Sphinx but Cadbury more than played their part in the contest.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 CADBURY ATHLETIC 0
Within ten minutes of the restart, Luke Hopkins started to make changes as the senior players were steadily replaced by the younger players. This started to have an impact on the game as Cadbury came into it more. Sphinx had a chance to double their lead in the 56th minute. An accurate chip from Downes picked out Blythe in the box and his close range effort forced a good reaction save from the Cadbury keeper. Sphinx made another change in the back three and minutes later Cadbury equalised with a fine finish across the Sphinx keeper. 1-1 with 65 minutes on the clock. The Sphinx response was almost immediate as Jeys work rate regained possession high up the pitch and he slipped in Piggon who calmly rounded the keeper to slip the ball in to make it 2-1 Sphinx on 67 minutes. The changes kept on coming for Sphinx and the chances were drying up. Cadbury had not given up on the game and in the 84th minute they were rewarded as a corner was dispatched with a stooping header to equalise. Just two minutes later an absolute screamer flew in to the net to bag a winner for the visitors. A very good game for the neutral and lots of information gained for the manager. Sphinx looked good with their starting XI and a new formation was deployed so another very worthwhile match against a Cadbury side that I fully expect to see challenging at the right end of their league.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 CADBURY ATHLETIC 3
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL, TAYLOR, JONES, JACKSON, BANKS, BLYTHE, BATES, THOMSON, L.DOWNES, PIGGON, JEYS
Subs used: Downie, Rooney, J.Downes, Bishop, Jaynes
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
AWAY Coventry Copsewood – Saturday 1st August, 1.30pm kick off