Sphinx headed to Stourport on Saturday for a MFL Premier Division match on the banks of the River Severn. Sphinx have a decent away record this season and last time they went on their travels they returned from Walsall Wood with all 3 points. Sphinx won at Stourport last season too so there were reasons to be hopeful of a good result today. Stuart Dutton made three changes to the side that drew against Boldmere St Michaels at Sphinx Drive last weekend. The players to miss out were Jimmy Halton, Ryan Baldwin and Ryan Harkin. The two Ryan’s took a place on the bench and they would go on to make important contributions to today’s victory. In came Aron Wint up front, Chris Johnston in midfield and George Cleet made his debut in defence. Cleet has joined the club on loan from Halesowen Town and was thrown straight into the side.
Both teams were looking positive in their search for the all important opening goal but we were well into the first half before either keeper was forced into a save. Stourport’s main attacking threat was being provided their big number 9 Aaron Lloyd and Eggleton and Cleet were being well tested by his physical presence. Sphinx got in their first serious effort just before the half hour mark with Brad Jones forcing the keeper to push his powerful drive over the bar. The chance came from a cleared Sphinx corner that Jordan Fesel collected and fed Jones who went on a run that took him across the face of the box before releasing his shot. Another corner came quickly for Sphinx and they took the opportunity to go short with Rhys Deehan then sending in a great cross that was weakly cleared only for Jordan Fesel to shoot over. Sphinx were coming to life now but they were stopped in their tracks by Stourport opening the scoring on 31 minutes. The goal came from a Stourport corner that was cleared but immediately delivered back into the box where Aaron Lloyd thumped the bar with a header but he was alive to the rebound and swivelled to fire into the bottom corner of Scott Dutton’s net. Sphinx continued to play and there was a brief shout for a penalty after a foul on Aron Wint. Just before half time another Sphinx corner provided an opportunity for Jamie Towers who couldn’t quite head down Brad Jones driven cross and as result it just cleared the cross bar. Sphinx went into the break a goal down but they had certainly looked more than capable of getting a goal of their own so there was all to play for in the second half.
HALF TIME: STOURPORT SWIFTS 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
Stuart Dutton wasn’t prepared to wait and made two substitutions at half time. Often people mistakenly make a presumption that players only get subbed because they are injured or playing poorly. This isn’t always the case and this was demonstrated by the replacement of Johnston and Deehan who were performing well. The substitutions were more about changing the shape and style of the play and on came Ryan Harkin and Dominik Alleyne for the second half. We were just eight minutes into the half when the changes had the desired effect with both of them combining in the 53rd minute to produce the Sphinx equaliser. Some nice football down the left, with Wint the instigator, left Alleyne in possession and his pass released Harkin into the box. HARKIN saw his first shot saved from a tight angle but his sharp reaction saw him bury the rebound past the exposed Stourport keeper. Sphinx had their tails up now and within six minutes of the leveller they went in front with Alleyne switching from provider to scorer for this one. Wint was involved again but down the right this time and his play with Towers set up Lower to deliver a great cross. The flight of the cross was badly misjudged by the keeper and ALLEYNE arrived at the far post steer a downward volley into the back of the Stourport net. Sphinx were showing no signs of sitting on their lead and Alleyne was soon testing the keeper again with a low shot. Stourport were not out of this though and Dutton came up with a good low save of his own to maintain the Sphinx lead. Sphinx then made their final substitution with Ryan Baldwin replacing Jones on the right of midfield. The next action had Dutton making a fine point blank reaction save and Sphinx then went straight up the other end with Harkin’s low cross managing to evade everyone in the box. The game was end to end now as we entered the last 15 minutes. Stourport squandered some good chances and another frantic spell saw a Towers header saved before Stourport broke forward to force Eggleton into a tremendous sliding block to prevent a shot getting through to Dutton in the Sphinx goal. There were just minutes to go now and a determined Cairns set Harkin on his way again and he was inches away from extending the Sphinx lead with his low drive whistling past the far post. Stourport had not given up however and they got their reward in the 91st minute from a set piece. The free kick was sent into the box and they kept the ball alive before substitute Reece Shilvock calmly passed the ball into the top corner to equalise. A hammer blow for Sphinx who must have thought they had done enough to win it and many sides would have took the point now but Sphinx had other ideas. A late free kick gave them one last opportunity and boy did they take it! Sphinx delivered the dead ball into the heart of the box and the ball dropped to Alleyne who crashed his effort against the bar but defender EGGLETON seized on the rebound to steer home the dramatic winner in the third minute of stoppage time. The players launched into a celebration that you would expect to see with such a crucial late goal and it was that man Eggleton who was in the right place at the right time again to claim victory. An unbelievable end to the game and I’m sure the travelling Sphinx support will remember that for quite a while!
FULL TIME: STOURPORT SWIFTS 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 3
MAN OF THE MATCH: DOMINIK ALLEYNE
Scott Dutton did well in goal and made some important saves today. He’s firmly established as the Sphinx number 1 and deservedly so. Scott Lower was his usual self and was excellent defensively and provided quality on the ball too. Cleet made a good debut and his defensive partner Eggleton managed to find time for a goal too. Wint worked hard wherever he was asked to play and he was involved in the build up to the first two goals. Towers held up the ball superbly and provided a threat in the box. The substitutions changed this game and Harkin was full of running and Stourport couldn’t cope with his pace but my Man of the Match is Dominik Alleyne. He provided the assist for the first goal, scored the second and was heavily involved in the third and ultimately he was the difference today.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER (c), FESEL, CAIRNS, EGGLETON, CLEET, JONES (Baldwin 69 mins), JOHNSTON (Alleyne 46 mins), TOWERS, WINT, DEEHAN (Harkin 46 mins)