The games don’t get much tougher than a visit to a Heanor Town side that have been at the top end of the table all season. Sphinx came into the game on the back of a home win against Dunkirk so they had reason to be optimistic of a result tonight.
Sphinx manager was blighted by the unavailability of a number of key players again which has been the story of his time in charge at Sphinx. Absentees from the last game included Albrighton, Haynes, Downes, Robinson and Downie. The good news was that Trey Brathwaite was available to play after he had joined Barwell on a dual registration basis recently. Tom Muldoon and Matt Taylor came into defence and Ryan Quinn returned from suspension to take his usual place in centre midfield. After a promising debut at Quorn we saw Zuhayb Abdirahman handed a second start and this time he was slightly further forward in a right midfield position.
It was important Sphinx started well and kept themselves in the game against a good Heanor Town side but they were behind after 6 minutes when they conceded a soft goal that really should have been dealt with. It was Abdollahi who was in the right place to tuck in the loose ball from close range. Sphinx didn’t allow the early set back to affect them and minutes later Rankin had a glorious chance to equalise but fired over from a good position in the penalty area. Sphinx almost came to regret that missed chance immediately as Heanor forced a good low save from Malhotra in the Sphinx goal. After the early flurry, the game settled down and Sphinx slowly but surely were having more influence on proceedings. The next chance for Sphinx fell to Ryan Quinn where he hit a speculative drive from outside the box. The keeper was caught flat footed and he looked relieved to see the effort go wide of the post. Sphinx were starting to look more of a threat now and got a golden chance to equalise after Nesbitt was carelessly fouled in the penalty area. Mitch Thomson stepped up to take the spot kick but he fired his effort the wrong side of the post to give Heanor a big let off. Again, Sphinx didn’t let this affect them and minutes before half time they got the equaliser they had deserved. Sam Delaney started the move from the back and QUINN finished it with a fine drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards. After a slow start Sphinx had steadily improved through the half and would be happy with the scores level at the break after such a poor start to the match.
HALF TIME: HEANOR TOWN 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
Sphinx started the half on the attack and a strong run down the right from Abdirahman won Sphinx an early corner. The corner kick found it’s way back out to Brathwaite and his instant shot was well saved by the Heanor keeper. Sphinx were visibly growing in confidence but that came to an abrupt end in the 57th minute when Heanor went back in front against the run of play. It was a goal of great simplicity as the Heanor forward Debrouwer won his duel with a Sphinx defender to then curl in a lovely finish inside the far post. Sphinx had been the better side this half but Heanor clinically took their chance to go back in front. Sphinx were still playing with the belief they could get back into it again but they were leaving themselves exposed at the back as they chased the game. Malhotra again saved well with his feet on 72 mins to keep the deficit to one goal and shortly after this Robbie Banks made a change as he introduced Jamie Delahunty to the game. Minutes after the substitution Heanor extended their lead after they seized on some slack play in the Sphinx midfield. Heanor substitute Jay Cooper put away his chance to effectively put the game out of the reach of Sphinx. There was still time for Debrouwer to double his tally and put the game to bed. Heanor had deserved the win but 4-1 gives an unfair reflection of the game. The difference in the end was the strength of the benches as Heanor had a lot more to offer from their substitutes. An encouraging performance but one that ended in defeat for Sphinx.
FULL TIME: HEANOR TOWN 4 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: RYAN QUINN
Sam Delaney is showing a consistency to his game that has him in the running for Man of the Match more often than not and the young defender is clearly benefiting from his time with Coventry Sphinx. Lewis Rankin looked a threat with his quick feet in midfield but today’s Man of the Match is Ryan Quinn. The young midfielder may be small in stature but plays with real energy and desire. Quinn got the Sphinx equaliser and covered a lot of ground in the midfield areas.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: MALHOTRA, MULDOON, TAYLOR, QUINN, DELANEY, ROONEY, ABDIRAHMAN, RANKIN, NESBITT (Delahunty 70 mins), THOMSON, BRATHWAITE