Walsall Wood 2 Coventry Sphinx 1 – Wood edge out Sphinx

Sphinx on the road again to a top half side and this time Walsall Wood were the opponents. The Sphinx side have showed good signs of improvement recently and the additions to the squad have certainly made an impact. The good news today was there were just three changes from the previous match and it was no coincidence that we left Walsall Wood happy that we had seen a decent performance from the team as a result. Experience was added to the defence with Jon Haynes coming in at left back and Mark Albrighton returning to lead the defence. The other change saw the exciting winger Garfield Robinson replace Trey Brathwaite on the left.

The early part of the match saw Sphinx unable to get out of their own half as Walsall Wood had them pinned in and under pressure. Sphinx defended well, displaying an organisation and calmness at the back as they prevented Walsall Wood from creating any significant efforts on goal. Sphinx saw out the first ten minutes and then had a spell of their own but they were also unable to make any opportunities on goal. The first effort on target came from striker Keiran Nesbitt after he got the better of a defender to poke an effort towards goal which was smothered by the home keeper. The 22nd minute saw Walsall Wood open the scoring with a set piece from wide on the left. The free kick was given for a handball against Muldoon and the Sphinx right back was furious with the decision as he believed the ball had hit him to the side of his chest. The free kick came into the box and the faintest of headers from Louis David Harris was enough to beat the exposed Sphinx keeper. A poor goal to concede but it was the excellent delivery into the danger area that was the key to the goal. 1-0 down away from home again but Sphinx have had to deal with these situations before so still plenty of time to remedy the situation. It took Sphinx just 11 minutes to level it up and what a good goal it was. ZUHAYB ABDIRAHMAN did most of the important work himself as his determination was rewarded as he out battled the defender for the ball, accelerated into the box and fired a superb shot across the keeper and into the back of the net for his first goal for the club. “Zu” had been working his socks off for his team and deserved that goal for his first class attitude alone. 1-1 on 33 minutes and all to play for. Zu and Garfield Robinson on the other wing had been Sphinx’s best attacking outlets and it was no surprise that one them was responsible for the equaliser. We went into half time with the score at 1-1 and the challenge for Sphinx was to now get a result from a good performance so far.

HALF TIME: WALSALL WOOD 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 1

The second half continued in a similar vein to the first half with chances on goal few and far between but an enjoyable contest nonetheless. The two Sphinx wingers, Abdirahman and Robinson, were looking serious threats and if Sphinx could have utilised their skills higher up the pitch they would have created chances for sure. Sphinx suffered a blow on the hour when Albrighton picked up an injury which forced him off and manager Robbie Banks had to come on to replace him. That was a significant moment for Sphinx as the senior defender had to leave the field but the game was still anybody’s to win. It looked like Sphinx were going to win it in the 76th minute after a Mitch Thomson effort was agonisingly cleared off the line. A superb through ball from Garfield Robinson had sent Mitch Thomson through on goal and he beat the keeper to the ball to stab it past him. The ball was rolling towards the inside of the post but some brilliant recovery play from a Walsall Wood defender saw him get back to clear the ball off the line just in time. Unlucky for Sphinx and to ram home their misfortune Walsall Wood grabbed a winner just five minutes from the end. The home side had earned a spell in the Sphinx half and the pressure told in the end as the ball went out to the left and Walsall Wood smuggled it away from two Sphinx defenders for Max Black to score what turned out to be the winner. Sphinx had put in a performance worthy of returning to Coventry with at least a point and they can be encouraged by their efforts today. Keep performing like that and they will be winning games very soon.

FULL TIME: WALSALL WOOD 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 1

MAN OF THE MATCH: ZUHAYB ABDIRAHMAN

Mark Albrighton always gives the Sphinx defence a more solid look when he’s in the side and it was a blow for Sphinx when he had to be substituted. His partner Sam Delaney had another good game and he was seriously tested by a quality striker by the name of Joey Butlin. Jon Haynes was very good at left back and his experience and quality was apparent again. The two stand out players for Sphinx were their two wingers. Garfield Robinson is a real box of tricks and he has the work rate to go with it. The other winger, Abdirahman, gets my Man of the Match today. He was slightly more  direct in his play and was rewarded with a fine goal as well.

COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: MALHOTRA, MULDOON, HAYNES, DELANEY, ALBRIGHTON (Banks 60 mins), ABDIRAHMAN (Dodds 88 mins), RANKIN, QUINN, NESBITT, THOMSON, ROBINSON

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