Sphinx have been on a miserable run of form in the league and today faced a Shepshed Dynamo side who had won their previous three league games. The form book was saying “away win” but football doesn’t always work out that way. Luke Hopkins was forced into a number of changes to his team for this Saturday afternoon fixture. Young goalkeeper Scott Dutton left the club during the week to join Wealdstone and was replaced by new signing Neil Collett whose previous clubs include Coventry City (Youth), Mansfield, Nuneaton and Leamington. Collett joins the club after a spell with Studley. Youngsters Jack Rooney and Jacob Dodds returned to the side in the full back positions. Robbie Banks made a welcome return from injury and Jackson Downie came into the Sphinx midfield after playing a lot of the season at right back. A total of 5 enforced changes made by Luke Hopkins as we prepared to face Shepshed at a wet Sphinx Drive.
It was a fairly uneventful start to the match when it suddenly burst into life after about 10 minutes when the referee decided that Sphinx debutant Neil Collett had fouled the Shepshed striker who was clean through on goal after beating the offside trap. The injury Collett received certainly suggested the referee had got it wrong and his error was made all the worse when he red carded the keeper for his trouble. With no keeper on the bench, right back Jack Rooney was forced to go in goal and he was unsurprisingly beaten by the spot kick to put the visitors 1-0 up. Sphinx then had the opportunity to bring on a substitute and their best option to go in goal was injured left back Ash Jackson. He had hardly got his gloves on when penalty number two was awarded. There was huge doubt about this decision too as a defender slid across to block a shot that was struck against him and the referee called it as handball. The ball print on his ribs would suggest different! The penalty was dispatched against an outfield player in goal who was doing well to stand up with his injured knee. I hate bemoaning bad luck but the astonishing misfortune Sphinx had suffered in the last ten minutes was incredible. Shepshed found themselves with a two goal lead after 21 minutes that they had barely had to work for. Sphinx had a massive task on their hands now and the manager bravely went with three at the back in an attempt to get back in the game. The game settled down and it certainly wasn’t obvious that Sphinx were a man down and without a recognised keeper. Sphinx went closest on 34 minutes with a free kick that was heading for the top corner before the Shepshed keeper just about got across his goal to push it away for a corner. This was a reasonable reaction from Sphinx and I think they would have settled for going in at half time with the score still 2-0 to the visitors.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 SHEPSHED DYNAMO 2
Sphinx came out still looking intent on getting back into the game and some good play between Wilson and Downie led to Downes shooting just over the bar. Ash Jackson soon produced a good save from a deflected cross to keep Sphinx in it and minutes later Sphinx had some luck of their own as a Shepshed shot trickled against the post and along the goal line before it was comfortably cleared. Robbie Banks did well to last 65 minutes on his return from injury and was replaced by new signing David Akinuli. He is a big strong centre forward who joins us from Barking after relocating to Coventry and certainly adds a physical presence to the forward line. The 71st minute saw another key moment as Shepshed got in down the right and the exposed stand in keeper saw the shot squirm under his body and into the net to make it 3-0 and effectively game over. Sphinx had worked hard but had rarely troubled the Shepshed keeper in all fairness and defeat was now inevitable as playing so long with ten was taking it’s toll. Jackson Downie managed to get in two decent efforts in the 78th minute but they would only have been consolation goals at this stage. As we entered the final ten minutes Shepshed added three more goals against a tiring and beaten Sphinx team to give the score line a very unhealthy look and in all honesty we were now glad the game was over.
Hopefully Sphinx’s run of poor form has now bottomed out and with two new additions to the squad already in and more promised by the manager in the coming week it is imperative that we all get behind the team in the FA Vase game coming up this weekend.
MAN OF THE MATCH: LUKE DOWNES
Ash Jackson gave it his best shot in goal despite being an injured left back and deserves a mention for that alone. Jackson Downie looked far more comfortable in a midfield role but my Man of the Match today is Luke Downes. He continued to try to create something for his team despite the way the game was going and came close to scoring himself.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
COLLETT, ROONEY, DODDS (Jackson 17 mins), BARNETT, TAYLOR, DOWNES, McBRIDE, BANKS (Akinuli 65 mins), WILSON, BLYTHE, DOWNIE
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
HOME: BLACK COUNTRY RANGERS – Saturday 31st October, 3pm – FA VASE