League Cup action at Sphinx Drive on Monday night as League title challengers Alvechurch arrived in Coventry. Once again the Groundsman performed miracles to get the game on after all the recent rain. Clearly the pitch wasn’t in the best condition but it was certainly playable. Manager Robbie Banks made three changes to the team from Saturday’s match against Lye Town. Again the defence had to be rearranged with left back Chris Sockett cup tied and Blenkinsopp and Downie were the other two to miss the game. In came attacking midfielder Lewis Rankin who was making his first start on his return from injury after a substitute appearance at the weekend. He was joined by loan signing Will Grocott in an attacking midfield position and centre forward Dave Akinuli got his chance to lead the line tonight.
Alvechurch came into the match as clear favourites but Sphinx looked determined to take the game to them as they made a very lively start to the match. A very good start from the Sphinx but could they maintain it? Well they certainly could and an early chance almost gave them the lead. Rankin got in down the right and fired a cross in across the face of goal that Akinuli appeared to get to but the chance went wide under heavy pressure from an Alvechurch defender. Quinn was the instigator of the next decent chance when he emerged from a tight area in midfield to find Muldoon out wide. Muldoon whipped in an excellent cross but Grocott’s header didn’t test the keeper. Promising stuff from Sphinx as they were looking the better side with a high energy performance. Alvechurch were kept out reasonably well by Sphinx but shortly before half time Collett was forced into a tremendous save to keep the score level. There was still time for one more opportunity for Sphinx as good work from Thomson set up Quinn for a low drive that was well saved. A very pleasing display from Coventry Sphinx that gave us desire, commitment and quality in equal measure.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 ALVECHURCH 0
A change at half time for Sphinx as Akinuli, who was struggling with a back problem, was replaced by Charlie Wilson up front. Sphinx were straight onto the front foot again as another good Muldoon cross was met by Thomson who shot just over when well placed in the penalty area. A great chance for Sphinx and they really needed to put one of these away to confirm their advantage so far. Rankin did well to play an hour after his first start in a while after injury and he was replaced by young wide man Jacob Dodds. Left back had mainly been the role for Dodds this season but he was now getting half an hour in his favoured position of wide midfield. Chances were starting to dry up although the quality of the football continued to impress on a difficult pitch. Suddenly a chance came for Sphinx as Wilson went through on goal only to be thwarted by a fine save. Sphinx would rue this as minutes later Alvechurch broke and a clinical finish from Nick Wright gave the scoreline a very harsh look from Sphinx’s point of view. Just ten minutes left on the clock now and Sphinx will have felt hard done by but you have to take your chances when you have them otherwise a good side like Alvechurch will punish you. The game opened up as Sphinx tried to force an equaliser and Alvechurch had a couple of chances to double their lead with the bar struck and a free header going wide. Sphinx never gave up but Alvechurch saw the game out to book their place in the next round. It’s not often you get beaten and are pleased with what you have seen but tonight I thought Sphinx were excellent. The attitude of the players was first class and there was no shortage of quality on the pitch. If Sphinx start putting their chances away they will have no concerns for the rest of the season.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 ALVECHURCH 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: RYAN QUINN
Lots of options tonight with such a good showing from the team. Collett was again a solid presence in goal and is proving a good signing. Francis was a giant at the back and lead the backline with authority. Muldoon had an excellent game at right back and put in some superb crosses as well. Luke Downes is as consistent as they come and again performed really well in his deep midfield role. Rankin gave us flashes of his ability on his return and his replacement Dodds was superb. Dodds gave us a master class of how to respond when coming off the bench. Hopefully this signals the return of the Dodds we got to know so well in the Youth team last season and it’s no coincidence he was in his favoured position tonight. Grocott oozed class and slotted straight into the team on his debut. My Man of the Match goes to Ryan Quinn because he summed up everything the Sphinx were about tonight. He gave us energy, tenacity, passing ability and quality.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
COLLETT, MULDOON, TAYLOR, DOWNES, ROONEY, FRANCIS, RANKIN (Dodds 62 mins), QUINN, AKINULI (Wilson 46 mins), GROCOTT, THOMSON
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
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