The games are really coming thick and fast now and on Easter Monday Coventry Sphinx made the short journey to Coleshill. A number of games fell victim to the weather in the Midland Football League Premier Division but there were no such concerns here thanks to the 3G pitch at Coleshill.
Manager Robbie Banks planned to make only one change today with the unavailable Jon Haynes replaced at left back by Joe Taylor who was making his first start for the club. Unfortunately a late injury concern for Keenah Rosser meant Robbie Banks was required to step into the side at right back. Other than that, it was an unchanged line up from the previous match where Sphinx had beaten Stourport Swifts.
Sphinx were slow out of the blocks and this allowed Coleshill the initiative in the early stages and Sphinx found themselves behind with the first real chance of the match. A combination of quick thinking from a free kick and a classy finish from Danico Johnson put Coleshill 1-0 up in the 9th minute. Sphinx failed to recognise the class of Johnson and minutes later he produced another fine effort to force Malhotra into a fine save himself. Johnson was causing havoc and in the 16th minute he doubled his and Coleshill’s tally. He was the width of a post away from his hat-trick in the 18th minute when Malhotra did well to push his effort onto the post and away. Malhotra was a busy man as Coleshill threatened to finish the game before Sphinx had got into gear. Sphinx managed to get themselves a free kick but the chance went to Coleshill as they counter attacked and this time Johnson was the provider as he sent in a cross that was side footed wide with the goal gaping. How Coleshill were not more than two goals up is beyond me and Sphinx’s goal had led a charmed life at times. Having said that, the difference was one man.. Danico Johnson. In the 36th minute Sphinx threatened to come to life with a good run from Rankin down the right but his cross was cleared. Mitch Thomson then cut in from the right and hit the first shot of note for Sphinx but it was deflected wide of the goal and out for a corner. The resulting corner gave Sphinx a lifeline with a goal back in the 39th minute. The corner was cleared but Robbie Banks chipped it back into the danger area which led to Quinn getting to the by-line and picking out an unmarked NESBITT to calmly pass the ball into the net. That goal lifted the spirits but an alert Malhotra stretched to prevent Johnson lobbing him and bagging a hat trick. After the way the game had started Sphinx would have been delighted to go into the break just a goal down.
HALF TIME: COLESHILL TOWN 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
An early second half substitution was made by Robbie Banks as he introduced Will Grocott to his midfield. Grocott immediately set about raising the tempo of Sphinx’s attacking play and a chance soon came with good work from Abdirahman finding Thomson who jinked into the box to fire in a shot that was well saved at the foot of the post. The early promise was soon nipped in the bud with a Coleshill break putting them 3-1 up on 50 minutes. The goal was a soft one as a weak header to the far post from Beckley was misjudged by the keeper and found it’s way into the net. Sphinx hadn’t let the goal set them back and they continued to show far more threat than they had in the first half. Thomson was the threat again as he was played into the box and the defender inexplicably scooped the ball away from him with his hand. A clear penalty and Jackson DOWNIE stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way on 54 minutes to put Sphinx right back in it at 2-3. Sphinx were playing far better and the reason for this was they were playing with a much better tempo. They were rewarded on the hour after some fine football got them an equaliser. Downie had slid a lovely ball through for Nesbitt and his cross was acrobatically finished by Abdirahman from close range. “Zu” is fast becoming a fans favourite with his energy and ability and he is chipping in with goals too. 3-3 on 60 minutes and Sphinx now had the momentum in their favour. Coleshill had had more chances but Sphinx had been more clinical with the ones they had created. It took Coleshill just five minutes to deflate the Sphinx comeback however and it was again a goal that could have been prevented. A weak defensive header was seized on by Barlone who finished into the far corner to make it 4-3 Coleshill on 65 minutes. Sphinx responded with the introduction of debutant Jean Dakouri in place of Ryan Quinn. Dakouri joins the club from Daventry Town and will add more depth to the Sphinx midfield. Sphinx were getting back on top and looking good for another equaliser but a key decision from the referee put paid to that. Abdirahman was fouled near the half way line, nothing was given and Coleshill proceeded forward where Cobourne wriggled into the box to poke home. In all fairness, Sphinx had time to defend the Coleshill attack after the apparent foul but they didn’t and Coleshill were now 5-3 up on 76 minutes in an incredible game. Sphinx were still looking to score and some quality football between the two subs, Grocott and Dakouri, put Abdirahman in and he was unfortunate to see his shot thump the post. On 79 minutes Coleshill made the points safe with a simple finish from Beckley to make it 6-3. A valiant attempt at a comeback from Sphinx was over but what a game it was! Sphinx took time to get into the match but when they did they produced some good stuff before Coleshill went on to win. Sphinx can come away satisfied with their attacking play but defensively they clearly need to improve as 6 goals conceded will testify.
FULL TIME: COLESHILL TOWN 6 COVENTRY SPHINX 3
MAN OF THE MATCH: JACKSON DOWNIE
Joe Taylor made his first start for the club and he impressed with his attitude and touch. Nesbitt again popped up with a goal and that’s now 6 goals in 12 appearances for the young striker. Grocott made a difference when he came on with his quick passing and his willingness to set a good tempo for his team. Abdirahman again gave us a view of his raw talent and energy and got on the score sheet too. The scorer of the penalty, Jackson Downie, is my Man of the Match. Jackson is developing a maturity to his game and is becoming a key player in the centre of the Sphinx midfield. He offers creativity and steel in equal measure and performed very well for his team today.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
MALHOTRA, BANKS, J.TAYLOR, ROONEY, DELANEY, QUINN (Dakouri 66 mins), RANKIN (Grocott 48 mins), DOWNIE, NESBITT, THOMSON, ABDIRAHMAN