Fixtures are coming thick and fast now and they don’t get much tougher than a visit from Sporting Khalsa. Sphinx came into this game on Monday night with a good point at Highgate behind them on Saturday.
Injuries forced manager Robbie Banks to make a number of changes including replacing himself. Banks, Downie, Muldoon and goalkeeper Hartopp all missed out in tonight’s match. Coming in were Adam Bilic who was making his first start since returning to the club, defender Matt Taylor and a very welcome sight was Liam Kay coming into defence. Making his Sphinx debut was goalkeeper Steve Brooks replacing Jack Hartopp who was suffering with a thigh problem. Four changes per match is about the average for Sphinx at the moment as unavailability and injury are causing unwelcome problems.
Sporting Khalsa looked a big and strong side and this would be a test for the young Sphinx side. Five minutes into the game and Sphinx got their first chance with a Thomson shot saved from a tight angle after a good ball down the line from Brathwaite on the left. Chances were hard to come by for both sides in the early exchanges but it was Khalsa who took the lead with the first real piece of quality. Khalsa got a free kick on the edge of the box and up stepped Craig Bannister to fire an effort over the wall and into the net past the beaten Brooks. A disappointing start for Sphinx as they found themselves 1-0 down on 13 minutes. Sphinx continued to battle away but were finding it hard work breaking down a strong Khalsa defence. Sphinx were defending well themselves and the centre backs were certainly kept busy as Khalsa looked to get the ball to their forwards as quickly as possible. It was no surprise to see no further goals in the half as the defences were having the better of this match so far.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 SPORTING KHALSA 1
It was essential that Sphinx got the next goal and they went close just minutes into the half after a swift counter attack saw Thomson get within inches of beating the Khalsa keeper to the ball. Sphinx were working hard defensively to stay in the game and occasionally threatened an equaliser with Thomson looking the most likely to score for them. Sphinx couldn’t sustain any spells of pressure and their attacks were limited by a good Khalsa defence. Despite the defences being on top it was Khalsa who held the lead as we went into the last ten minutes. The Sphinx management were making adjustments to their team as they looked to take more risks in one last effort to get an equaliser. Khalsa took advantage as Bannister grabbed his second from close range in the 82nd minute and that was effectively game over now. Khalsa were able to put a gloss on the score line after a mistake from the Sphinx keeper allowed Townsend to tuck away a gift of a goal. That was harsh on Sphinx and their keeper who had had a decent debut overall. Sphinx had worked hard but hadn’t threatened the visitors goal enough to warrant a result tonight although a 3-0 defeat wasn’t really deserved.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 SPORTING KHALSA 3
MAN OF THE MATCH: LIAM KAY
Tonight was a night for defences and that was reflected in the performances I’m about to highlight. Ryan Quinn can rarely be faulted for his work rate and once again he worked hard for the cause in the centre of midfield. Adam Bilic was starting his first game at this level for quite a long time but his performance in midfield was a credit to him. The defenders were worked hard and Ricky Fletcher is improving game by game after his return to the club. Liam Kay was the standout player for me as he slotted into the defence as if he had played there all season and provided us with some much needed experience.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: BROOKS, ROONEY (Dodds 75 mins), BRATHWAITE, FLETCHER, KAY, TAYLOR, BILIC, QUINN, RANKIN, DOWNES, THOMSON