After Saturday’s 2-2 draw, the two Midland League Premier Division sides locked horns again at Sphinx Drive on Monday night. Sphinx had performed well enough on Saturday to go into the replay believing they could finish the job tonight. Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins made just one change to his line up with Matt Taylor dropping to the bench to make way for the returning Jackson Downie at right back. Otherwise the team had a very settled and familiar look to it as Sphinx looked to progress in the FA Cup.
Piggon was the first to test Bedford in the Lye Town goal in the 4th minute but his firm near post effort was saved. Shortly after, right winger Lewis McBride announced himself with a great run that was only stopped by a foul on the edge of the box. Ash Jackson’s effort was comfortably collected by the keeper but it was a positive start from Sphinx. Both sides looked well matched and Sphinx were looking well up for the contest with the prize of an away tie at Rugby Town up for grabs. The danger man for Lye Town in the first match was Simon Williams and he looked their biggest threat again tonight. Sphinx looked organised defensively and were looking to play swiftly but directly in order to get their front men of Piggon and Cain into the game as soon as possible. Once again, Lewis McBride was proving to be a thorn in the side of the Lye Town left back who was struggling to contain the quick and skilful winger. Sphinx couldn’t capitalise on his wing play however so we were locked in a stalemate as we went into the interval.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 LYE TOWN 0
Still all to play for in the second half and the game was in much the same vein as the first but Lye Town were getting a touch more possession without testing O’Neill in the Sphinx goal. There was a close call for Sphinx in the 56th minute when a Lye Town corner caused chaos in the Sphinx box but the ball was eventually scrambled clear. Sphinx absorbed the visitors spell well and just after the hour Sphinx got their attacking game going again. Ash Cain outpaced the Lye Town defence to get himself into a good position but his shot was blazed over the bar. The next serious attack brought Sphinx the goal they had been looking for. McBride was the creator as his perfectly placed cross was finished effortlessly by midfielder Richard BLYTHE to give Sphinx the advantage in the 69th minute. Sphinx were working their socks off all over the park and their will to win was clear for all to see. McBride threatened again in the 78th minute but his shot was tame after he had cut inside the full back. In the last ten minutes of the game Luke Hopkins substituted both his strikers for two former Coventry City players, Tom Bates and Avun Jephcott. Sphinx were now minutes away from getting the victory their football had deserved when Jackson Downie got a second yellow card to reduce Sphinx to ten men. Lye were pushing hard for an equaliser and Sphinx were defending deep to keep them out. Seconds into injury time Williams hit a screamer that was totally out of the blue to send the tie into extra time. A blow for Sphinx and they had the further problem of being a man down as well as we prepared for extra time.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 LYE TOWN 1
After the late dismissal and equaliser, the momentum was now with the visitors, or you would expect it to be. Luke Hopkins was having none of it and showed great positivity by going with three at the back as he looked to win the tie. His players responded by rolling up their sleeves and working even harder and as a result it was impossible to tell they were a man short. Confidence was growing and I felt Sphinx could win this. That belief increased just before the half way point of extra time when Luke DOWNES seized on a loose ball at least 35 yards out from goal. He shifted it out from his feet and hit a peach of lob over a frantically back pedalling keeper who couldn’t keep his effort out of the net. An outstanding goal to put Sphinx 2-1 up in the 104th minute. Still plenty of work to do as the ten men of Sphinx were sure to tire but Sphinx dug in and the introduction of the electric pace of Jacob Dodds made them look more likely to score. A superb run and shot from Dodds was well saved by Bedford as Sphinx exploited the space left by a tiring Lye Town. Sphinx defended resolutely as Lye Town desperately looked for an equaliser. It never came and the ten men of Sphinx got the result their work had deserved.
FULL TIME after EXTRA TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 LYE TOWN 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: Robbie Banks
The over-riding factor in tonight’s success was the team. They grafted for each other, played for each other and looked out for each other. This was a team performance if ever there was one. Myles Jones is fast becoming a fans favourite at the back and is already proving to be an astute signing by Luke Hopkins. Jackson Downie performed well at right back and one crunching (but fair) tackle on the touchline will live long in the memory. McBride was in good form on the right but don’t under estimate his work rate as well. Luke Downes is starting to look like the player we all know he can be and his goal had that touch of class that will be an early contender for goal of the season. My Man of the Match is Robbie Banks. If you need a captain to lead by example then Banks is your man. The running he got through was incredible. He popped up all over the pitch and it left you breathless just watching him. He snuffed out attacks, drove his team forward when in possession and was always on the move as he looked to influence the game
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
O’NEILL, DOWNIE, ROONEY, JONES, JACKSON, BANKS, BLYTHE (Dodds 112 mins), McBRIDE, L.DOWNES, PIGGON (Bates 79 mins), CAIN (Jephcott 84 mins)
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
LEAGUE: HOME – Boldmere St Michaels – Saturday 22nd August, 3pm