After a good performance in the previous game, Sphinx travelled to Staffordshire in good spirits despite their recent run of league results. Two changes were made to the team from the previous game against Banbury and they were both in defence. Jack Rooney came in at right back for the injured Mitch Thomson and Captain Tom Bates returned at left back in place of Ash Jackson.
Sphinx were almost caught cold in the first minute when Rocester got themselves into the box and the alert Scott Dutton rushed out of his goal to smother the shooting opportunity. Rocester were the side to gain the early edge but despite having more of the game their chances were limited with Sphinx looking solid and organised at the back. Rocester were limited to efforts from outside the box and their best chance was blazed over the bar from 20 yards. A satisfactory start for Sphinx as they contained the home side well in the early stages and then started to grow into the game themselves. 20 minutes into the game and Sphinx were starting to show their attacking threat after a ball into the box from Rooney found it’s way to Blythe but his shot was well blocked by a sharp Rocester defence. McBride was starting to get on the ball on the right wing and the full back soon found himself in the book for a challenge on him. Both sides were looking defensively sound and chances were few and far between at this stage. It was McBride who tested the home keeper first after Taylor produced a good ball to pick him out. McBride received the pass and beat the full back to get away a shot that was saved by the legs of the Rocester keeper and Piggon was agonisingly close to getting to the rebound. Sphinx had their tails up now and the tireless Charles Wilson harassed a defender into a mistake and got away a strong shot that rebounded off the cross bar. Great effort from Wilson and unlucky not to score from the opportunity he had created for himself. Sphinx surged forward again as they pressed for the opening goal and it was McBride again who forced the keeper into a save. Sphinx certainly ended the half the stronger and after a solid first twenty minutes they gradually asserted themselves on the game and could be satisfied with their performance so far.
HALF TIME: ROCESTER 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
The challenge for Sphinx now was to make this a 90 minute performance and despite Rocester having a early second half chance that hit the side netting, I believe they did that today. Sphinx got their first chance of the half within five minutes of the restart after winning the ball back from a Rocester throw in deep into the home sides half. Sphinx shifted the ball across the face of the penalty box before Rich Blythe hit a shot that was deflected for a corner. Rocester were defending very well and Sphinx were going to need something special to break their resistance. The next Sphinx opportunity arose after Tom Bates won the ball back for his team to set up a counter attack that was led by Blythe who slipped in Rankin down the middle. Rankin’s first shot was blocked and his effort from the rebound went just over the bar. Sphinx were playing all the football this half and a good passage of play from them released McBride into the box and his fierce drive was kept out by the bravery of the Rocester keeper who made the save with what appeared to be his face! On 75 minutes Rocester made a rare attack that Dutton dealt with well. Dutton was looking a lot more settled today, his kicking was better and his decision making was improved. Regular football is starting to benefit the young keeper and he was performing well today. Ten minutes from the end and it looked like only Sphinx could win this but an inexplicable decision from the referee gifted Rocester a penalty. Some people would call it a soft penalty but I’m going to call it as I saw it and in my opinion the referee got it wrong. Matt Taylor was defending against a Rocester player on the by-line when he appeared to be helped to the floor by the Rocester player who promptly fell over the prone Taylor. The referee instantly awarded a penalty and left Sphinx stunned with disbelief. Dutton very nearly kept the penalty out but the pace and accuracy of the spot kick was just too much for him. It was a hammer blow to Sphinx who had deserved more from this game. Rocester defended their advantage well and Sphinx were left to rue a very unlucky goal to concede in what had been a good away performance.
FULL TIME: ROCESTER 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
MAN OF THE MATCH: TOM BATES
Lewis McBride was a good outlet for Sphinx again on the right wing and has consistently performed well for us since joining the club. Scott Dutton put in an improved performance and was cruelly denied a deserved clean sheet by the penalty decision. Jack Rooney came in at right back and never lets his manager down with his excellent attitude. Matt Taylor once again performed more like the man of last season and he deserves enormous credit after losing his place a few weeks ago. My Man of the Match today is Tom Bates. He has really settled into his new role at left back and his leadership of the team was exceptional. Tom’s fitness is clearly improving too and this was arguably one his better performances for Coventry Sphinx since joining the club in the summer.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, ROONEY, BATES, BARNETT, TAYLOR, DOWNES, McBRIDE, BLYTHE, WILSON (Quinn 80 mins), PIGGON, RANKIN
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
HOME – Heanor Town – Monday 19th October, 7.45pm kick off – League