A performance to be proud of today as Sphinx took the points against a strong Heanor Town side. The shift they all put in was outstanding and if they keep those levels up they will surely continue to get their rewards. The management were in a relatively comfortable position with team selection with only two changes to the starting line up. “The Chief” Kieran McCalla made his first start in months after he returned from injury last week with a substitute appearance. The defender took up the left back berth in the defence today alongside the returning Jamie McAteer who went straight back in to the centre of defence. McAteer replaced Ryan Smith who had been filling in at centre back and Smith is now a Bedworth Utd player. Coming the other way from The Oval is a familiar face to those who followed the double winning Sphinx Youth team a couple of years ago. Brad Hardwick is a cultured midfielder who has been performing very well for the Bedworth U21 team and has recently been knocking on the door of their first team. Hardwick took a place on the bench today alongside other young talent such as Jordan Fesel, Karabo Motshweni and Tom King.
We knew there was a tough game ahead of us with Heanor Town in the top 6 again and on a good run of form. The minimum requirement was to put in the work required and they certainly did that today. Ryan Harkin is a great example to any young player too. In and out of the team in the opening months of the season after making the step up to the MFL Premier Division and he’s kept on performing when others would have sulked. He’s getting more and more football and is currently the clubs top scorer this season. He’s been patient, showed a tremendous attitude and backed himself to establish himself at this level. Harkin was soon into the action with a great run down the right and after a sharp one-two with Towers he skipped past a defender and cut back a dangerous cross into the six yard box that was cleared in a hurry by Heanor. The game was becoming a physical battle and Sphinx were well up for the contest that was developing. Cairns had to leave the field with injury after 27 minutes but that gave recent signing Tom King an opportunity to show what he is capable of when he replaced him. Harkin was the danger man again as we approached half time. This time he approached goal from the left and his fierce drive was parried out to Blackmore but his instant drive at goal went just over the bar. The final chance of the half for Sphinx fell to Towers after good work from King and Woodward allowed him the chance to shoot but the effort was too high to trouble the visitors keeper. Heanor themselves had looked a threat but some excellent defending from Sphinx saw us go into the break goal less and neither side could find much to complain about with the scores level at half time.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 HEANOR TOWN 0
All to play for this half and the big question was could Sphinx maintain the performance level they had displayed in the first half? It was looking promising for Sphinx in the early stages of the half as they continued to match Heanor Town on the physical aspects of the match and were earning the right to play some decent football when the opportunity came. Sphinx carved out a glorious chance to take the lead in the 52nd minute with Towers providing the assist for Woodward who was well placed in the penalty box but after taking a touch he shot wide with the keeper vulnerable. Sphinx didn’t have to wait much longer for the lead and they had Blackmore and King to thank for that. Blackmore is a powerful runner with the ball and his driving run across the inside of the box was ended with a clear foul. The referee promptly blew his whistle for what everyone assumed was a penalty but quite astonishingly he awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. The protests were waved away and he set the wall position surprisingly close to the ball. You had the feeling it just wasn’t going to happen for Sphinx but KING stepped up to fire the free kick over the wall and in off the bar. A superb debut goal for Tom King after a very promising performance from him so far. If there were any concerns Sphinx may tire then they soon disappeared because Sphinx now had a lead to protect. They defended superbly when they needed to but they were always looking for an opportunity to get a second. The second goal never came and Heanor are a very tough side to break down. Heanor were never out of the game and there wouldn’t have been many complaints if the game had ended in a draw. It’s a great credit to Heanor that Sphinx were so pleased with this result. They had to work incredibly hard to get it but often you find hard work pays off and today they got their reward.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 HEANOR TOWN 0
MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMIE McATEER
All over the pitch there were performances to be proud of and it was a tremendous team effort. No player was carried and all of them stood up to the challenge. Players I’d like to highlight are McCalla who played very well at left back after such a long lay off. Lower and Eggleton gave us their usual consistency in defence too. Downes is getting better by the game as he gets back up to full fitness and Blackmore certainly cemented the decision by the supporters to award him player of the month. King produced the moment of class to win the game and he certainly bought into the work ethic of the team. Woodward provides that crucial experience in midfield as we expected he would. Harkin looks more and more confident and worked his socks off as the first line of defence. Credit must go to goalkeeper Scott Dutton for the clean sheet but my man of the match is Jamie McAteer who was a rock at the back for Sphinx.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, McCALLA (Fesel 76 mins), BLACKMORE, McATEER, EGGLETON, TOWERS (Motshweni 76 mins), WOODWARD, HARKIN, CAIRNS (King 27 mins), DOWNES. Unused Sub: Hardwick