Continental Star 1 Coventry Sphinx 1 – Lacklustre Sphinx escape with a point

In midweek Sphinx travelled to Walsall to play Continental Star who currently sit bottom of the Midland Football League Premier Division. Star have been showing signs of fight in recent weeks and got a very creditable 0-0 draw against a free scoring Loughborough University side previously. However, Sphinx would be coming into this game seeing it as a good opportunity for three points.

Once again, changes were made to the side by Manager Robbie Banks but it was only three alterations to the team that had suffered a late narrow defeat at Walsall Wood previously. Young Solihull Moors loanee Keenah Rosser replaced Tom Muldoon at right back, Adam Bilic came into midfield for the injured Mitch Thomson and new signing Fazel Koriya replaced wide man Garfield Robinson. Koriya joins Sphinx from Newport Pagnell Town and is an attacking player with a record of 24 goals in 41 appearances.

Sphinx were slow out of the blocks and it was the home side who had the first effort on goal but Ash Malhotra comfortably saved the effort. Star went on to have much more of the opening ten minutes but they posed little threat to the Sphinx goal. It was not the start we had been expecting as Sphinx were looking a little flat. Sphinx were then forced into an early substitution as the gamble of playing an injured Mark Albrighton failed and he was replaced on 20 minutes by young defender Jack Rooney. Just after the substitution, Sphinx showed their first signs of real intent as Keiran Nesbitt powered down the left and did well to earn a corner for his team. The corner came to nothing and in all honesty the half petered out to half time as the defences for both sides were well on top. Sphinx would have to show a lot more life in the second half to breech the Continental Star defence and claim an all important win here.

HALF TIME: CONTINENTAL STAR 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 0

Sphinx immediately set about addressing the lack of threat by getting an effort on goal within a minute of the restart. Ryan Quinn was the man to produce the effort but his 20 yard drive whistled just wide of the post. This was much better from Sphinx as the tempo of their play had increased significantly. This was making a difference as they were now getting efforts in on goal. Nesbitt had two opportunities in a minute as he put a shot and a header over the bar. Sphinx then made a change in the wide attacking position with Garfield Robinson replacing Zuhayb Abdirahman just before the hour. Robinson is a box of tricks but Sphinx were not getting him into the game enough for him to hurt Continental Star. Another change followed with Luke Downes replacing Adam Bilic in the centre of midfield. Just 20 minutes remained for Sphinx to find a winner as Star were posing little threat to the Sphinx goal but the home side were still in the game and then started to show signs of scoring themselves. Sphinx had a let off as a corner was poorly defended and were grateful to see Star put the loose ball over the bar. This was a warning that Sphinx failed to take notice of and they were punished in the 77th minute when Star took the lead with a tidy finish from Simeon Tullock. Sphinx had a lot to do now and had only themselves to blame for the position they were in. Within a couple of minutes Sphinx were level thanks to a moment of controversy. A ball was delivered into the box from a free kick and a group of players rose at the back post which resulted in the ball sitting in the back of the net. There was a suspicion of handball for the equaliser and the Continental Star players were furious the goal had stood. The referee and his well placed assistant had seen nothing wrong with it so NESBITT proceeded with his celebration of a critical equaliser. Sphinx now sensed an opportunity to win it and they went closest after an acrobatic volley from Lewis Rankin forced a great save from Ellis. It was too little too late from Sphinx in the end but a valuable lesson should have been learnt in that there are no easy games at this level and you need to be playing at the right tempo from minute one of a game. Not a good performance and fortunate to get a point in the end but a point that could prove key at the end of the season.

FULL TIME: CONTINENTAL STAR 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 1

MAN OF THE MATCH: JON HAYNES

Not many performances that stood out tonight but I thought Jon Haynes was excellent at left back. His performance was good and his experience and leadership qualities stood out.

COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:

MALHOTRA, ROSSER, HAYNES, QUINN, DELANEY, ALBRIGHTON, KORIYA, BILIC (Downes 69 mins), NESBITT, RANKIN, ABDIRAHMAN (Robinson 59 mins)

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