A huge game for Sphinx in Leicestershire on Saturday in what was set to be a test of their bottle as much as their ability. They came away with three points after a dramatic end to an entertaining game. Sphinx again had a good amount of support travelling to back the side who have certainly responded to that in recent weeks by showing a desire to perform in the blue and white stripes of Sphinx.
Manager Robbie Banks continues to strengthen his squad when the opportunity arrives and today he welcomed young midfielder Zuhayb Abdirahman from Barwell. He was given a start on the right today. Other changes saw Mark Albrighton and Sam Delaney return to the defence in place of the unavailable Fletcher and Kay. Jack Hartopp returned in goal and striker Keiran Nesbitt replaced the unavailable Adam Bilic to complete the changes.
Sphinx got off to a slow start as Quorn had them pinned in their own half for the opening few minutes but they withstood that and replied with an attack of their own that ended with Brathwaite shooting straight at the keeper. Quorn were having more possession and territory in the first 15 minutes but it counts for nothing if you don’t score as Sphinx have found out for themselves this season. Sphinx punished the hosts with their first serious chance of the game by opening the scoring in the 19th minute with a goal of great simplicity. Mitch Thomson leapt superbly to beat the central defender to the ball and the ball dropped for NESBITT near the edge of box and he seized on his opportunity to drive Sphinx into the lead past the beaten Russell Hoult. The goal was against the run of play but it was a goal that was gratefully received by the Sphinx support. Quorn were soon back level in the 27th minute when Hartopp was beaten from an acute angle by Callum Thompson. 1-1 and still all to play for in this crunch Midland Football League Premier Division clash. Quorn continued to threaten and Hartopp saved a far post header with his feet to keep Sphinx level. Robbie Banks made a tactical switch on 30 minutes with Brathwaite swapping positions with Rankin and it made an immediate difference for Sphinx. The away side would have been satisfied with a 1-1 at half time but a Thomson burst through the middle gave them an opportunity to take the lead from the spot in the 41st minute after he was barged over in the penalty area. THOMSON stepped up to take the spot kick and he sent ex WBA and Derby keeper Russell Hoult the wrong way to give the Sphinx a welcome half time lead.
HALF TIME: QUORN 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
Sphinx had got themselves into a good position but Quorn would have had plenty of encouragement from their own efforts in the first half so still plenty to do for Sphinx in the second half. Quorn continued to press for their equaliser as Sphinx also looked for a third which made it an entertaining game for the crowd. Sphinx manager Banks made his first change just before the hour with debutant Abdirahman making way for the experience of Muldoon on the right. Quorn were having no joy in their hunt for an equaliser and they were punished by Sphinx in the 71st minute with a goal from a superb counter attack. Thomson and Quinn were heavily involved and the move ended with Quinn picking out THOMSON in the box who tucked away the chance with a first time strike. 3-1 Sphinx and now in a great position to pick up three valuable points. Quorn were far from a beaten side and they grabbed one back on 79 minutes after Turner reacted first to a looping deflected shot to nod home. 3-2 to Sphinx and a tense finish ahead of us now. Sphinx looked to have done enough to win as we entered added time but Quorn broke Sphinx hearts with a 91st minute equaliser. It was a lovely piece of football that set substitute Bryans away and he calmly slotted in the equaliser to apparently claim a point for the home side. Heads may have dropped in the crowd but Sphinx found time for another attack as they got in behind the Quorn defence thanks to a brilliant run from deep by Downes. Still plenty to do for Downes as the keeper came out to narrow the angles but a combination of composure, awareness and team play from Downes saw him feed the better placed NESBITT to his left who slotted it into the bottom corner with remarkable coolness. The coolness disappeared when the ball hit the back of the net and he realised he’d won Sphinx the game in the 94th minute! The celebrations from the players and supporters showed what this meant and how important the victory was and what a dramatic way to win a game. Sphinx must build on this now as their performances have steadily improved and now they have converted that into a crucial result. Maintain the performance level, desire and spirit they showed today and they won’t go far wrong.
FULL TIME: QUORN 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 4
MAN OF THE MATCH: A number of good performances today and we’ll start with the defence. Mark Albrighton was outstanding in the centre of defence as we have come to expect from him since joining us from Bedworth. Young Solihull Moors loan player Sam Delaney is a no nonsense defender alongside him and he again impressed as he also showed a real desire to win today. Another Solihull Moors youngster, Trey Brathwaite, was also in good form and confirmed what we think of him at Sphinx with another good display. Lewis Rankin is known for his skill and pace but he showed another side to his game today as he worked hard for the cause regardless of the position he was asked to play in. Ryan Quinn was his usual bundle of energy in midfield and Luke Downes gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of in the second half. Mitch Thomson is proving to be a natural up front and bagged himself another two goals for his tally but my Man of the Match goes to Keiran Nesbitt who also scored twice. Nesbitt is also with us from Solihull Moors and provides a real presence in the Sphinx frontline. He is incredibly difficult to get off the ball, produced two good finishes and his work rate was fantastic. He looked a tired young man with 20 minutes to go but dug deep to find a second wind to pop with the 94th minute winner.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: HARTOPP, ABDIRAHMAN (Muldoon 60 mins), RANKIN (Downie 87 mins), ALBRIGHTON, DELANEY, ROONEY, BRATHWAITE, QUINN, NESBITT, DOWNES, THOMSON