The unbeaten Sphinx run came to an end at the weekend with a narrow defeat at St Andrews. On Monday night Sporting Khalsa were the visitors to Sphinx Drive and they always provide tough opposition. Khalsa were many people’s tips to be involved in the title race this season and despite their slow start to the season they would surely be right in the mix after this impressive performance.
Stuart Dutton made three changes from the previous game. Danny Harris made way for David Barnett on the right of midfield and Harkin and Towers were replaced by Webb and Downes. A three figure crowd gathered on a warm evening at Sphinx Drive and the opening period of the match had little in the way of goal mouth action but it was a good physical contest all the same. The first moment of real quality resulted in a goal for the visitors with Bannister slamming home a cross from the right on 29 minutes. Sphinx responded with a drive from Webb but a good save kept it out of the Khalsa net. On 40 minutes the visitors doubled their lead after exerting severe pressure on the Sphinx goal. Dutton produced one fine save but he was unable to prevent Bannister thumping in his second of the match. Khalsa had steadily got a grip on the game and Sphinx had failed to trouble the keeper so they could have no complaints with the half time score.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 SPORTING KHALSA 2
Despite being two goals down there was still a chance Sphinx could back in the game so the next goal was crucial. Unfortunately for Sphinx that went to Khalsa just five minutes into the half when Shearer seized on some sloppy play to put the visitors 3-0 up and the game was beyond Sphinx now. Sphinx made a double substitution on the hour with Harkin and Albrighton coming on for Barnett and Webb. That did little to change the flow of the game with Khalsa adding two more goals in as many minutes on 65 and 66 minutes. The first came from the penalty spot with Bannister claiming his hat-trick and Meese got himself on the score sheet to make it 5-0. Harkin was now getting going for Sphinx and a good effort from him forced the underworked keeper into a good save. Harkin’s pace was causing Khalsa their first real problems of the evening and that was highlighted with his quick feet winning a penalty with six minutes to go. Harkin had earned the right to take the penalty but he skied it over the crossbar which was disappointing for him as his performance since coming on had warranted a goal for his efforts.
5-0 was the final score and there was no doubt that Sporting Khalsa deserved the win. They were the better side on the night and showed a lethal combination of clinical finishing and good defending to claim the points. I will be amazed if Khalsa are not in the title shake up this season and it’s difficult to find any weaknesses in their side.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 SPORTING KHALSA 5
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: SCOTT DUTTON
The Sphinx defence were worked hard and had a tough night. Scott Lower worked hard at right back and Liam Cairns showed some moments of quality in centre midfield. Ryan Harkin was the biggest forward threat for Sphinx in his half an hour on the pitch. That’s exactly the kind of performance you want to see from a substitute. However, my Man of the Match is Scott Dutton. His performances have improved as the season has progressed and he made some good saves tonight as Sphinx couldn’t contain the visitors. After tonight no one can doubt his passion and will to win for the club that’s for sure.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, BLACKMORE (Harris 80 mins), CAIRNS, EGGLETON, McCALLA, BARNETT (Albrighton 60 mins), JOHNSTON, THOMSON, DOWNES, WEBB (Harkin 60 mins). Unused Sub: Swain