Well, the day had arrived for Coventry Sphinx Football Club to take a team to Edgar Street to face a Hereford side in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000. Todays attendance would smash the attendance record for a Coventry Sphinx fixture so history was in the making for our club regardless of the result. Hereford are clear favourites for the league title and today they confirmed why with a display that will no doubt be repeated against plenty of other sides before the season is done.
Manager Robbie Banks was forced to make six changes to the team that had ran Alvechurch so close in the League Cup recently. A combination of unavailability and illness had impacted on his team selection to give him a selection headache for our toughest game of the season. Keeper Neil Collett was unavailable so in came debutant Louis Connor in goal. Chris Sockett returned to the side at left back and Albrighton came in for Francis at centre back. Midfielders Luke Downes and Ryan Quinn were unavailable so they were replaced by teenagers Jack Downes and Jacob Dodds. Jack Downes is the younger brother of Luke and he was thrown in at the deep end today but Robbie Banks had little choice. The final change saw Blenkinsopp return for David Akinuli.
Tom Muldoon captained the Coventry Sphinx side in what must have been a very proud moment for him in front of a big crowd. Sphinx looked to be coping with the occasion and minutes into the game Mitch Thomson was pulled down on the edge of the box to give Sockett an opportunity to strike a free kick that was comfortably collected by the keeper. A promising start for Sphinx that came to an end when Hereford took the lead after their first serious attack. Initially it was Bundu who caused the trouble when he cut in from the left to hit a strong shot that Sphinx keeper Connor pushed out for a corner. Sphinx struggled to clear the corner and despite a good save from Connor they fired the ball home after defender Willets pounced on the loose ball. A great start for Hereford but they didn’t really push home their advantage during the first half. Hereford had chances but Sphinx were settling into the game and producing some decent football of their own. The livewire on the left Bundu was giving the Sphinx full back a torrid time and his cross led to Hereford hitting the post in the 26th minute. A minute later Sphinx were level thanks to an excellent run down the middle from youngster Jacob Dodds. His run saw him get away a good shot that the keeper could only parry into the path of the lurking Blenkinsopp who stabbed the ball in, much to the elation of the pocket of Sphinx support at the far end of the main stand! Sphinx were close to getting to half time with the scores level but Hereford struck with two goals in the space of minutes to give them a two goal lead. Their finishes for the two goals were excellent with Bundu’s goal particularly impressive and that extra bit of quality when it mattered proved to be the difference.
HALF TIME: HEREFORD 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
A big ask for Sphinx to come back against a Hereford side that had won it’s previous 24 matches but they were not totally out of the game yet. Hereford started the half looking a bit livelier and their advantage became dominance after experienced Sphinx centre back Albrighton received his second yellow card to get himself an early bath. The resulting free kick was well saved by Connor and Sphinx scrambled away the rebound. Banks reacted to the dismissal by bringing on teenage centre back Kyle Barnett but it didn’t take long for Hereford to increase their lead. It was damage limitation now as the game was beyond ten man Sphinx and Banks then made his next substitution as one young midfielder was subbed for another as Jackson Downie joined the action. Akinuli then came on for the hardworking Blenkinsopp to complete the managers changes in the 70th minute. A dominant Hereford completed the scoring with two late goals. Hereford had more than deserved their win in the end but Sphinx didn’t disgrace themselves, particularly in the first half. Sphinx went with two up front as they looked to ask questions of Hereford and got themselves a deserved goal. Two quick goals just before the break and a red card just after the break put paid to the match as a contest but what an experience for the young lads in the squad. Hereford are far and away the best side Sphinx have played this season and I’ll be amazed if they don’t win the league.
FULL TIME: HEREFORD 6 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: LOUIS CONNOR
I was particularly pleased with young Jack Rooney in the Sphinx defence. He didn’t look fazed by the occasion and certainly wasn’t intimidated physically at any point. He demonstrated the right attitude and temperament and will only improve. Chris Sockett looked solid at left back and has proved too be a decent signing by Robbie Banks. Mitch Thomson showed he has the quality to live with this class of player and Jacob Dodds looked a potential threat when he had the opportunity to run with the ball. Blenkinsopp gave us a good shift up front and popped up with a real strikers goal too. My man of the match is keeper Louis Connor who was thrown in for his debut and performed well. He made a number of saves and appeared confident in his work.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: CONNOR, MULDOON (Barnett 57 mins), SOCKETT, JACK DOWNES, ROONEY, ALBRIGHTON, DODDS (Downie 64 mins), GROCOTT, BLENKINSOPP (Akinuli 70 mins), RANKIN, THOMSON
Next Coventry Sphinx fixture:
HOME – COLESHILL TOWN – Saturday January 2nd, 3pm kick off – league