Coventry Sphinx were on the road this weekend as they made the journey to Stourport in search of an away win in the league to follow up their FA Vase progress. It was a wet day in the midlands but the game was on and we travelled with optimism with two new additions to the squad in our ranks. Mark Albrighton and David Blenkinsopp were the new arrivals and they both played for Bedworth United previously. Albrighton is an experienced centre back and Blenkinsopp is a striker and they will both improve the team without a doubt. They both went into the starting line up today and one further change saw Ryan Quinn come into the Sphinx midfield after his tremendous substitute appearance in the FA Vase win at Black Country Rangers. The Sphinx side suddenly had a more experienced look about it and with plenty of quality to go with it. There were some issues at full back which meant captain Robbie Banks had to go in at right back and defender Matty Taylor took up an unfamiliar role at left back. It was possibly the most experienced back line Sphinx had fielded all season so there were no concerns about that today.
The pitch looked patchy in places but it had coped remarkably well with the torrential rain we had endured up to the game. It was still raining as we kicked off but the pitch was perfectly acceptable for a game of football by the banks of the River Severn. It was a fairly even start to this match as the new boys appeared to be settling in well. Albrighton was everything I was expecting as he displayed a no nonsense attitude to defending which was just what Sphinx had needed. Blenkinsopp was working his socks off up front and gave us real energy in forward areas. A promising start got even better in the 12th minute when Sphinx carved open the Stourport defence to take the lead. Blythe was the architect as he danced through the Stourport defence and hit an accurate shot with the outside of his right foot. The keeper did well to get to it but the alert Trovarn THOMPSON reacted quickest to lift the loose ball past the keeper and into the back of the net. A dream start for Sphinx and the early goal certainly gave them something to fight for now. Robbie Banks was epitomising the spirit of the side at right back and if this man doesn’t inspire you then no one will! Stourport were looking for the equaliser and Sphinx counter attacked with some real quality as Thomson, Blenkinsopp and Blythe combined to create a chance for Downes who had arrived at the back post but his shot went over the bar. Good stuff from Sphinx but Stourport were still well in the game and midway through the half Dutton had to respond well to a long range Stourport effort with a strong hand to keep the shot out. Blythe was in good form today and after providing the assist for the first goal he was the creator again as Sphinx doubled their lead on 33 minutes. Blythe attacked the penalty area and despite being forced wide he found Ryan Quinn on the edge of the box. Quinn worked his way across the box as he looked for half a yard to get away a right footed shot. The defender showed him onto his left foot and QUINN didn’t hesitate as he thumped a left footer into the bottom corner from 20 yards. A superb goal from the young midfielder and Sphinx were now firmly in the driving seat. Mitch Thomson was next to try his luck for Sphinx as his drive was pushed past the post for a corner. The break came and saw Sphinx took a two goal lead into the interval which was deserved on their performance so far.
HALF TIME: STOURPORT SWIFTS 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
Stourport changed things at half time as they looked to get back into the contest but Sphinx started the half the stronger as an excellent dribble from Quinn saw him surge deep into the Stourport penalty area where his near post shot was kept out by the feet of the keeper. Sphinx were looking confident with their play and they soon produced a passage of passing football that was a joy to watch. There were 20 plus passes in the move in the Stourport half and their swift movement of the ball was rewarded as the space opened up for Downes to get in a decent effort on goal. That was a clear demonstration that quick passing football creates chances if you remain patient. Sphinx were playing all the football in the first 15 minutes of this half and it was a bit of a surprise when Stourport got a goal back in the 64th minute. It was a very good strike into the top corner after a ball had been squared across the box to Wager who finished well for the home side. Sphinx were still performing well but Stourport were now back in the game and it showed in their play as the goal had given them the boost they had needed. Stourport managed to hit the post in the 72nd minute and they were having a bit more of the ball since the goal but Sphinx were defending well and maintained their lead. With Stourport trying to push forward in the search for an equaliser, Sphinx were catching them on the break more often. The tireless Blenkinsopp then made way for the fresh legs of Jackson Downie as we approached the final ten minutes of the game. It was tense stuff as Sphinx were getting so close to securing the points but Sphinx were reasonably comfortable and looked like they could get a third. Dave Akinuli came on with a minute to go and immediately went on a powerful run through the middle to force the keeper into a save. The full time whistle went and Sphinx had got the points their hard work alone had deserved. The away support gathered by the tunnel to applaud the players off and it was richly deserved as they had done the club proud today.
FULL TIME: STOURPORT SWIFTS 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
MAN OF THE MATCH: ROBBIE BANKS
A number of contenders today and I’ll start with the two lads from Bedworth. Albrighton went about his business at the heart of defence with little fuss, did the simple stuff well and read the game superbly. Blenkinsopp was exceptional with his work rate up front and his experience was certainly apparent too. I’m confident Blenkinsopp will score goals for us and it was a promising performance from him for sure. Blythe was his usual self as he displayed leadership, graft and quality in the midfield as well as being the creator of both the Sphinx goals. Quinn vindicated the decision of the manager to start him in the centre of midfield with a classy goal, sharp passing and hard work. Matty Taylor performed well in an unfamiliar left back role and Ricky Fletcher got another game under his belt and gives the defence a much more solid look. My Man of the Match today is Robbie Banks. “Banko” is a captain who leads by example and the work he got through at right back was exceptional. The belief he has in himself in tight situations is impressive and he has every right to believe in himself because he rarely gives the ball away. A real captains performance from him today and he must be an inspiration to his team mates with the attitude he shows.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, BANKS, TAYLOR, QUINN, ALBRIGHTON, FLETCHER, THOMSON (Muldoon 90 mins), BLYTHE, BLENKINSOPP (Downie 80 mins), THOMPSON (Akinuli 89 mins), DOWNES
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
HOME – Brocton – Saturday 21st November, 3pm kick off – FA VASE