Sphinx squandered a glorious chance to take three points after playing virtually the whole match against ten men. Highgate could well have won it themselves in the end but neither side could find the winner at Sphinx Drive on Wednesday evening. Before the game, I’m sure Sphinx would have been satisfied with a point but having a man advantage for 87 minutes left us with an air of disappointment about the result.
Manager Stuart Dutton made five enforced changes due to injury or unavailability and it’s got to be said that this happens just about every week now. You’ve got to feel for the manager with his team changing so drastically on a weekly basis but that can often be the life of a manager at this level. Into the side came Rhys Deehan, Liam Cairns, Luke Downes, Ryan Harkin and new signing Callum Woodward. Callum arrives back at Coventry Sphinx after spells at Barwell and Coalville Town and he is a significant signing for the club.
The first big moment of the match came as early as the third minute with Sphinx setting up to defend a Highgate corner. That was soon stopped due to Callum Woodward laying prone in the penalty box. The referee consulted with his assistant, the culprit was identified and was promptly sent off for violent conduct. Highgate’s Lei Brown had lasted 3 minutes before seeing Red and it appeared to be a golden chance for Sphinx to secure a result against the side that had knocked them out of the FA Cup in early August. Highgate had lost their striker and arguably their best player but they got on with it and looked relatively comfortable despite being a man short. Sphinx got the all important first goal on 17 minutes and it came courtesy of MOTSHWENI. That was his first goal for the club and he had Scott Lower and Luke Downes to thank with their play down the right providing him with the chance to slam in the opener form close range. Minutes later, Harkin got in down the right but his shot from an acute angle failed to trouble the keeper at his near post. Sphinx were having a bit more of the play since the goal and it was right back Lower who was at the heart of it again. He wasn’t satisfied with an interception and went on to drive into the box and it was only a last ditch tackle that prevented him from being one on one with the keeper. Motshweni had another sight of goal just before half time but his first time shot was too high to test the keeper. Limited chances for Sphinx in this half and in fairness to Highgate, it was difficult to tell they were playing with ten men. The visitors were well in this game and there was plenty of work for Sphinx to do to get the win they were looking for.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 HIGHGATE UTD 0
Highgate had done more than enough in the first half for them to believe they could get something from this game and the longer it went without Sphinx adding a second goal the more likely it looked that Highgate would get the equaliser. Sphinx changed it on 63 minutes with Downes making way for the extra physical presence of Chris Johnston but that didn’t alter the flow of the game and it was no surprise when Highgate got their equaliser on 70 minutes. It was the simplest of goals with a long punt forward putting their forward in an aerial battle with the Sphinx defence which resulted in the ball breaking for Manning who lashed his effort at goal. Sphinx keeper Dutton got something on it but not enough to keep it out of the net. Highgate’s tails were up now and the concern was that they would go on to get themselves a winner. They didn’t in the end but Sphinx came away happy to take the point and a case could certainly be argued for Highgate being worthy of getting all three points in the end. Sphinx hadn’t capitalised on their advantage and despite going in front they couldn’t beat the determined visitors. Highgate will come away from this game a lot happier than their hosts that’s for sure.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 HIGHGATE UTD 1
MAN OF THE MATCH: SCOTT LOWER
While Sphinx didn’t have the guile to break down Highgate they played well enough. Credit must be given to Ryan Smith who filled in at centre back and played well considering he is unfamiliar with the position. Woodward gave us glimpses of what he is all about but the two stand out players were Reece Blackmore and Scott Lower. Reece has hit form now he is playing in centre midfield and he certainly didn’t deserve to finish on the losing side with his all action display. My Man of the Match though was Scott Lower who was strong defensively and at times provided Sphinx with their biggest attacking threat.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, DEEHAN, BLACKMORE, EGGLETON, SMITH, MOTSHWENI (Baldwin 86 mins), WOODWARD, HARKIN (Pidgeon 77 mins), CAIRNS, DOWNES (Johnston 63 mins)