It’s been a while since our last game due to the winter weather and today we travelled to Hereford to play Westfields who are based just around the corner from Edgar Street, the home of Hereford FC.
Manager Robbie Banks had been busy adding numbers to his squad and that was evident today as five of the starting eleven were making their Sphinx debuts. All of the debutants were under 21 and just two of the starting line up were over the age of 21. A very youthful look to the side at a place that is always difficult to get a result at.
A very unfamiliar line up and the first task was putting names to faces! Jack Hartopp was in goal for Sphinx after transferring from Shepshed Dynamo and he wasn’t seriously tested in the opening twenty minutes. That was soon to change however as Westfields Jamie Cuss put away his chance after they had got in down the left. A disappointing goal for Sphinx to concede after starting the game reasonably well. Sphinx responded with a great run down the middle by Lewis Rankin that ended with a deflected shot going out for a corner. The corner ball fell in the box at the feet of Jack Rooney and his thumping shot was blocked and cleared. Westfields were next on the attack and Hartopp did well to deal with a one on one situation to prevent Westfields extending their lead. Another corner was won by Sphinx and this time they capitalised to equalise. Westfields again failed to clear properly and big Sam DELANEY powered a looping header back over the Westfields keeper to make it 1-1 on 34 minutes. Sphinx had barely had time to enjoy the moment when the home side went back in front on 38 minutes. It was Cuss who struck again as he dispossessed a Sphinx defender to go on and lob the exposed Hartopp. Right on the stroke of half time it went from bad to worse for Sphinx as Cuss completed his hat-trick with a cool finish.
HALF TIME: Westfields 3 Coventry Sphinx 1
A lot of work to do for this inexperienced Sphinx team if they were to get anything out of this game. Sphinx started the half well and were unlucky not to pull a goal back on 50 minutes as Luke Downes latched onto a ball over the Westfields defence and headed over the advancing keeper. Downes was clattered in the process and suffered again as he looked across to see the offside flag up. The first substitution was then made as Matt Taylor replaced Jack Rooney in defence. Almost immediately, left back Sockett drove forward and cut inside to feed Downes who turned and shot just wide of the target. A good run and shot from Kieran Nesbitt followed as Sphinx continued to look for the goal that would get them back into the game. Nesbitt was one of four players to come in to the side who had joined Sphinx on loan from Solihull Moors and he was certainly catching the eye with his strength and work rate up front. Rankin always looked the most dangerous for Sphinx when he got himself into central positions and a surging run was only ended by an awful challenge on the edge of the box. Rankin took the resulting free kick and despite its accuracy it didn’t trouble the keeper too much due to the lack of power in the shot. Sphinx were having a bit more of the game this half but Westfields were still looking extremely dangerous themselves. The 71st minute saw Sphinx receive the killer blow as Westfields bagged a fourth courtesy of Baldwin who had looked a threat all afternoon. It was 4-1 now and the game looked beyond the visitors. The game petered out from this point as the result now looked a foregone conclusion. A deserved win for Westfields in the end but some promising performances from the debutants gave Sphinx cause for optimism in the future.
FULL TIME: WESTFIELDS 4 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: SAM DELANEY
I would say the most encouraging aspect of the day was the efforts of the new arrivals. Jack Hartopp stepped into the problem goalkeeping position and I’m confident he will do a good job for us for the rest of the season. Four of the Solihull Moors under 21 team came into the Sphinx side and none of them let us down with their attitudes. Rosser slotted in at right back, Brathwaite took up a left midfield position and Nesbitt played a centre forward role. The one that really caught my eye was Sam Delaney who gave us a big presence at centre back and popped up at the other end to score as well.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: HARTOPP, ROSSER, SOCKETT (Kpohomouh 72 mins), BANKS, ROONEY (Taylor 57 mins), DELANEY, RANKIN, QUINN, NESBITT, DOWNES, BRATHWAITE