Coventry Sphinx made the very short journey to Allard Way to play their final pre-season friendly against Midland Football League Division One side Coventry Copsewood. The players and coaches were obviously very familiar with each other and Sphinx’s management team from last season were in opposition today as Luke Hopkins Sphinx side lined up against Stuart Dutton’s Copsewood. Any team that Stuart Dutton is involved with will provide tough opposition and today was to be no different.
Luke Hopkins started with a strong looking side with the surprise inclusion of Ashley Cain in the Sphinx forward line. Cain has been busy with work commitments during the summer but has re-joined the Sphinx just in time for the start of the season. Captain Robbie Banks sat this one out, although he was in attendance, but otherwise it was a side that looked close to the one that will start the season on August 8th.
There was an early battle for supremacy as neither side were getting into full flow with their attacking play. There wasn’t much to talk about in the opening stages as the game took on the look of a training ground exercise but the game burst into life in the 21st minute when the hosts went in front. It was no surprise that the Copsewood goal machine Connoll Farrell was the man on target as his close range shot squirmed through Carl O’Neill in the Sphinx goal. Sphinx hadn’t really got going and their first serious opportunity came around half an hour into the match when Cain was clean through on goal. He attempted to round the keeper but was thwarted by the Copsewood keeper when the square ball to an unmarked Luke Downes was the better option. A fairly uneventful half came to an end with the hosts one goal in front.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY COPSEWOOD 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
After a half time team talk from Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins we were expecting a response from the players and that’s exactly what we got. Within 90 seconds of the restart Sphinx were back on level terms. It was Cain who was through on goal again but he made no mistake this time as thumped in an equaliser from a tight angle. 1-1 and Sphinx raised there game after this to start looking more like the team we know they are. They were shifting the ball quicker and looking more of a threat to the Copsewood defence. Copsewood defended well and looked dangerous themselves with their quick breaks so the game could have went either way at this stage. Just ten minutes into the half and Sphinx began using their substitutes as Jeys and Bishop replaced Piggon and Bates. Just after the hour Sphinx were awarded a clear penalty after Jack Jeys was unceremoniously brought down in the box. Cain confidently claimed the ball but his spot kick was saved after the keeper went the right way but Jeys reacted sharply to stick the rebound in the net. 2-1 to the visitors with an improved performance so far in this half. The substitutions kept on coming for Sphinx and a rasping drive from Luke Downes came close to stretching their lead. Another driving run and shot from Luke Downes was well saved as Sphinx were getting on top but they would come to regret not extending their lead when Copsewood grabbed a late equaliser after some slack defending from Sphinx. Farrell was again the man in the right place to tuck in the goal to leave things all square at the end of the game.
Some good spells of play from Sphinx in the second half but not enough to claim victory. As for Copsewood, I have a feeling they will surprise a few in Division One next season. They have a very solid centre back pairing, there is pace in the side and they have a superb goalscorer at this level in Connoll Farrell. Combine that with Stuart Dutton on the touchline and they will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming season.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL, ROONEY, JONES, TAYLOR, JACKSON, BLYTHE, L.DOWNES, THOMSON, BATES, PIGGON, CAIN
Subs used: Jeys, Bishop, Muldoon, Downie, Jaynes
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
LEAGUE: Long Eaton United – Away – Saturday August 8th, 3pm kick off