Eight goals were shared at Sphinx Drive with both sides looking likely winners at some point in the game. A draw was a fair result in the end with neither side defending well enough to deserve the victory. It made for an entertaining afternoon at Sphinx Drive though and gave manager Stuart Dutton plenty of food for thought.
Sphinx had won their previous match 3-2 at Shepshed Dynamo and the visitors Rocester were struggling down at the wrong end of the Midland Football League Premier Division. Recently Sphinx had beaten Rocester 4-1 in Staffordshire so the obvious prediction would be a Sphinx win. For anyone new to this division, that would be a brave presumption to make with any side capable of beating another in this competitive division. Three changes were made from the previous game by Sphinx with the two full backs being changed. Blackmore came in at right back to replace the injured Lower and the fit again Astley returned at left back. The last change saw the unfortunate Johnston sit this game out to make way for new signing Kurtis Revan who arrived from Corby Town during the week.
The game quickly developed with Sphinx dominating possession without creating much in the way of clear chances. Sphinx were being patient with their build up play but it was a powerful direct run down the left from Towers to earn Sphinx a corner that got Sphinx going. The corner was cleared but the next Sphinx attack brought us the opening goal in the 12th minute. The move started with a great run from Revan and his low cross was deflected towards the corner of the goal. The Rocester keeper did well to paw it away but it fell to Jackson DOWNIE and he thumped it in off the bar from outside the penalty area to give Sphinx the lead. A great strike from Downie to open the scoring and Sphinx went on to look in reasonable control of the game. On 30 minutes DOWNIE struck again with a low drive bouncing in front of the Rocester keeper and nestling in the bottom corner to double the Sphinx lead. Sphinx were looking comfortable, perhaps too comfortable for their own good and Rocester grabbed themselves a lifeline just before half time when they scrambled in a goal scored by Jordan Simpson. The game had looked close to being over but that late Rocester goal had given them something to play for in the second half.
Picture: Liam Cairns in action earlier in the season and the scorer of today’s dramatic late equaliser.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 ROCESTER 1
Rocester started the half the better and they got their reward with a penalty on 50 minutes. Dutton was sent the wrong way by Rob Ritchie Smith and Rocester were level with two quick goals either side of half time. Sphinx needed to up their game now but Rocester really had their tails up now and just four minutes later they went in front with a goal of great simplicity. A long ball was flicked on and Ritchie -Smith poked it past the exposed keeper. Sphinx must have been shell-shocked by this incredible turnaround and Rocester were now favourites to win this game. Sphinx manager Dutton used all his substitutes in the following 30 minutes as he searched for the equaliser and one of his subs Ryan Harkin was the man to get it. The equaliser came in the 84th minute after Revan had broken through the Rocester defence to force a save from Froggatt but Harkin was lurking to fire in the loose ball from close range. Sphinx now believed they could win this too and in the 87th minute they had a shout for a penalty that was turned down. However, Rocester went straight up the other end and scored with a classy finish from Riddell. He dealt with the bouncing ball brilliantly by lobbing the Sphinx keeper with the outside of his right foot and that looked to have sealed it for the visitors. Rocester were inches from confirming victory in the 90th minute with a long range dipping drive bouncing off the cross bar and Sphinx took full advantage with a dramatic equaliser in the 93rd minute! Revan had worked his way to towards the by-line and his waist high cross was headed home by a stooping Liam Cairns. A breathless finish to an entertaining game and a point each was fair in the end. Rocester showed good character to come back from two goals down and Sphinx refused to be beaten by coming from behind on two occasions to snatch an unlikely looking draw after getting themselves into a winning position initially.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 4 ROCESTER 4
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: JACKSON DOWNIE
Anton Astley got forward well from left back after a spell out with injury. Kurtis Revan got better as the game went on and it was a promising debut with his ability to drift past players catching the eye. Louis Guest showed tremendous desire in his half an hour on the pitch. Ryan Harkin once again came off the bench to pop up with a crucial goal but my man of the match is Jackson Downie. Two high quality strikes from him put Sphinx into a two goal lead and his ability has never been in question. He was making good decisions on the ball and put in good work off the ball too.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, BLACKMORE, ASTLEY (Guest 60 mins), CAIRNS, EGGLETON, McCALLA, REVAN, DOWNES, TOWERS, THOMSON (Harkin 60 mins), DOWNIE (Harris 79 mins). Unused Subs: Johnston, Webb