Sphinx travelled to the doorstep of Alton Towers on Saturday looking to extend their unbeaten run to four games. Stuart Dutton had been busy strengthening his squad during the week with two high quality additions. First in was striker Jamie Towers and he was swiftly followed by defender Liam Kay. Both have proven themselves at a higher level with Barwell and they were both thrown straight into the starting line up. Four further changes were made with Astley, Harkin, Johnston and Smith coming into the side. Competition is hot in the Sphinx squad at the moment and six changes demonstrates the strength in depth that the management team of Stuart Dutton, Neil Collett and Scott Furlong have available to them.
Coventry Sphinx started the stronger of the two sides and just two minutes into the game the Rocester keeper was forced into the first of many saves. The chance came as a result of Ryan Smith being fouled. The free kick was headed back across goal by Johnston and the loose ball was fired towards goal by Eggleton who saw his shot saved at the foot of the post. It took Towers only six minutes to threaten goal and he must have thought he had scored until a brilliant intervention on the line from a Rocester defender kept the ball out of the net with the keeper beaten. It was looking only a matter of time before Sphinx scored as the hosts were struggling to contain them. It took twenty minutes for the deadlock to be broken after some excellent work down the right from Towers provided ASTLEY with the opportunity at the far post to loop a header over the Rocester keeper. Sphinx had took the lead their play had merited and it wasn’t long before they extended their lead. Another right wing cross, but from Smith this time, and TOWERS produced an accurate header to leave the keeper with no chance. Half an hour gone and Sphinx were well in control and next it was Astley to try his luck as he drove forward from the left before hitting a shot wide of the goal. Towers was causing all sorts of problems and a rising drive just evaded the top corner after he had dispossessed a Rocester defender. Ryan Smith was showing us his close ball control skills and a great piece of dribbling won Sphinx another corner just before half time. Nothing came from the corner and Rocester almost got a shock goal back on the stroke of half time with an effort clipping the top of the Sphinx bar. There was still time for Towers to have two more sights of goal with a cheeky chip and a header failing to test the Rocester keeper. An excellent half from Sphinx and they went into the break with a two goal lead to show for it.
HALF TIME: ROCESTER 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
Rocester hadn’t had time to respond as Harkin forced the overworked Rocester keeper into two good saves within a minute of the second half starting. The first was a solo effort that ended with a firm strike that was well kept out and the second came after Smith had slipped Harkin through on goal but his effort towards the far post was read by the keeper and he saved it comfortably. On 54 minutes Rocester got a surprise goal back with a wickedly deflected free kick wrong footing the unlucky Dutton in the Sphinx goal. That goal put a bit of life into the hosts and the tiring Smith was soon replaced by the returning Jackson Downie in the Sphinx midfield. Dutton then produced a great save to tip an effort onto the post and out for a corner as Rocester threatened to get an unlikely equaliser. Sphinx put that recovery to bed with Harkin using his pace to put the ball on a plate for TOWERS to pass his second goal of the game into a gaping net. 3-1 to Coventry Sphinx after 69 minutes and it was difficult to see a way back for Rocester now. Harkin had got better as the game went on and he was the chief tormentor of Rocester in the final twenty minutes. The Rocester keeper was forced into numerous saves by Harkin and he had done everything bar beat the keeper so far. That changed in the 87th minute with a near post finish that got him the goal his performance had richly deserved. With the exception of a brief rally from Rocester after their goal it was a dominant performance from Sphinx with Rocester well beaten in the end. Three more points on the board and a difficult match at home to Coleshill Town on Bank Holiday Monday awaits. That’s a 3pm kick off at Sphinx Drive if you fancy taking a look at the progress of Coventry Sphinx.
FULL TIME: ROCESTER 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 4
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Harkin
A team performance to be proud of today and no one had a bad game which was the key to the victory. The defence were strong and Scott Dutton had an excellent game in goal. He was confident in claiming high crosses into the box and his performances are improving by the game. Astley looked good defensively and provided a real threat going forward and Reece Blackmore did the same on the right. Johnston got through a great amount of work in the Sphinx midfield and is as strong as they come while Smith gave us glimpses of his ability on the ball. Cairns once again did the hard work in midfield and has settled in well after his move from Copsewood. Towers bagged two goals and his experience allowed Harkin to flourish. Harkin has patiently waited for his chance and on another day he would have had a hat-trick. He had to settle for a goal and an assist today. His work rate was second to none and he should be pleased with his efforts today.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, ASTLEY (Webb 72 mins), CAIRNS, KAY, EGGLETON, BLACKMORE, JOHNSTON, TOWERS (Cutting 78 mins), SMITH (Downie 62 mins), HARKIN