Another rearranged fixture to play and this one was squeezed in on Thursday night. Khalsa have had a superb debut season in the Midland Football League Premier Division and sit in third place with an outside chance of the title still within their grasp.
Manager Robbie Banks made five changes to the side that lost at Coleshill on Monday and all of them were enforced due to injury or unavailability. Both full backs were changed as Jon Haynes and Keenah Rosser returned to the side. Robinson replaced Rankin, Koriya replaced Nesbitt and Downie was replaced by Jean Dakouri who was making his first start for Coventry Sphinx.
Sphinx couldn’t have had a worse start as they found themselves 1-0 down after just two minutes. Failing to clear the ball from the box left Wherton with the task of slamming the ball home from close range to give Sporting Khalsa an early lead. Sphinx conceded a couple of further chances in the opening ten minutes but the score remained 1-0. Sphinx then settled down and got their first opportunity through player manager Robbie Banks as he sent in a good drive that was saved by the Khalsa keeper. The next Sphinx chance soon followed as Abdirahman turned in the box to get a shot away. Sphinx were well in the game now and they were inches away from equalising when Sam Delaney hit the post from a Sphinx corner. Just as Sphinx were establishing themselves in the game they went 2-0 down thanks to sharp thinking from a free kick by Bannister. The free kick was on the corner of the penalty area and the Sphinx keeper set up a five man wall. Bannister spotted that the keeper was slightly out of position and promptly drilled his effort into the top corner. 2-0 Khalsa on 32 minutes and it was soon to be 3-0 when Bannister struck again to curl into the corner as he caught the keeper flat footed with a quick shot. 34 minutes gone and 3-0 down despite playing reasonably well so far. That was the score as we ended the first half and Sphinx had a mountain to climb now.
HALF TIME: SPORTING KHALSA 3 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
It would be a lot to ask for Sphinx to get anything out of this game now but credit to them because they came out and gave it a real go. Delaney again provided the threat from a set piece as the keeper had to be quick to block his header at the far post. A minute later Sphinx got the goal back they had been after when Mitch Thomson produced a bit of quality to go through the Khalsa defence and bury his effort into the bottom corner. 3-1 now after 55 minutes and a glimmer of hope for Sphinx. A much better second half for Sphinx so far and they had a chance to pull another goal back with a quick counter attack. Rosser and Koriya were at the heart of it down the right and the move ended with a Robbie Banks drive saved. The hardworking Abdirahman was substituted midway through the half with Muldoon coming on at right midfield. Muldoon was soon involved as he fed the overlapping Rosser who delivered a good cross to Robinson who would have expected to do better with his attempt from such a good position. A positive response from Sphinx in this half and there was nothing between the sides despite the scoreline. Just before full time Khalsa added a fourth with Lawley getting on the score sheet to confirm the points. Conceding in the 2nd minute is never an ideal start and two moments of quality from Bannister effectively put the game to bed in the first half. Sphinx were better in the second half but the damage was done at this point.
FULL TIME: SPORTING KHALSA 4 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: ROBBIE BANKS
Despite being a centre back, Sam Delaney provided an attacking threat from set pieces and was very unfortunate not to score today. Jon Haynes was solid at left back and his experience certainly helps the young Zuhayb Abdirahman in front of him. Dakouri made a solid first start for Sphinx in the midfield and I’m sure there is more to come from him. My Man of the Match is Robbie Banks who led his side by example on the pitch today. He was playing a deep midfield role but still found time to threaten the goal and he rarely gave the ball away. Well played gaffer!
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
MALHOTRA, ROSSER, HAYNES, BANKS, ROONEY, DELANEY, ROBINSON, DAKOURI, KORIYA, THOMSON, ABDIRAHMAN (Muldoon 74 mins)