Today’s match had it all.. Goals, a red card , a penalty, a fight back and controversy as the match ended in thick fog at Sphinx Drive. Sphinx looked dead and buried at half time at 2-0 down and a man short but they produced an almighty effort to get level before a disputed late penalty gave Westfields the points in a game that should have been abandoned a good half an hour previously due to the thick fog that had descended.
Stuart Dutton was back in the dug out and he had the experienced heads of Towers and McAteer back in the side after missing the Birmingham Senior Cup match in midweek. The team had just the one change from the previous league match that saw them claim a 4-1 win at AFC Wulfrunians. The change was Jackson Downie in for Tom King on the left of midfield and the manager also had good options on the bench today.
Sphinx made a lively start against the title challengers from Hereford with Harkin in particular looking a threat. He looked certain to score inside ten minutes when he beat the offside trap but his shot was deflected out for a corner. That was unlucky for the young striker and Westfields compounded that by going up the other end and taking the lead with a good quality goal in the 10th minute. The goal was all about Ham who turned on the corner of the penalty box and hit a curling dipping effort into the top corner leaving Sphinx keeper Dutton with no chance. An early setback for Sphinx almost got worse with Westfields doing really well not to score in the 16th minute after a goal mouth scramble ended with them crashing the ball against the bar. Some sloppy play from Sphinx gave Westfields the second goal although there was still plenty for them to do after Sphinx had conceded possession deep in midfield. Westfields broke forward quickly down the right and the low cross from Grant was finished at the far post by a sliding Harrhy after 20 minutes. A harsh score line for Sphinx but a demonstration from Westfields on how they are having such a good season. Sphinx had played some good football in spells but it was Westfields who had the goals. Sphinx were agonisingly close to pulling a goal back with the Westfields keeper and defender combining to keep out a close range Harkin header which looked like it may have crossed the line before being cleared. Woodward wasn’t to last much longer on the pitch after a second yellow card saw him Red carded and off for an early shower. The incident that led to his dismissal came from a tackle on him that turned into a wrestling match with a Westfields player. The Westfields player escaped punishment but Woodward was booked and subsequently dismissed for his part in the incident. We were only a minute from half time at this point but there was still time for Dutton to produce a good save to stop Westfields adding a third. Sphinx had a mountain to climb now as the fog started to descend on Sphinx Drive at half time and the next 45 minutes would be a test of their character as much as anything.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 WESTFIELDS 2
Again Sphinx started brightly this half and despite being down to ten men they were brave with their pressing of the ball and with their commitment of men forward. They certainly weren’t looking at damage limitation and they were still playing in a manner that indicated they fully believed they could get something from the game. The crowd certainly sensed Sphinx could do this but Dutton again was called upon to keep the score down with a smart save with his legs. Just before the hour Sphinx got a lifeline with a well deserved goal from Towers. Great work down the right from full back Lower and marauding centre back Eggleton led to an Eggleton cross being dropped by the Westfields keeper while under pressure and TOWERS swivelled in the box to bury a shot into the bottom corner. 1-2 and game on. The Sphinx tails were up now and the one man disadvantage had been forgotten as they were becoming the better side. By now the fog had descended rapidly and the visibility was beyond poor with the linesman being unable to see across the pitch. Sphinx looked well capable of getting level and they did just that on 80 minutes after more work down the right led to full back Lower’s cross being thumped in at the back post by opposite full back McCalla. Down to ten men but the bravery of the Sphinx mentality was highlighted by one full back providing the assist for the other full back. Sphinx had time to win this now but it always helps if you can see the goal! The pleas for an abandonment were growing louder and louder with visibility down to shockingly poor levels but the referee at no point showed any sign of contemplating making the right decision despite asking for orange balls early in the second half. Apparently there was a game going on out there but the crowd were left to listen for clues as to what was happening. Five minutes from the end a whistle in the fog had apparently indicated a penalty for Westfields and I was told that Jones had put away the spot kick to pinch the win. That was a win they should have never have been pinching as they should have had Sphinx put to bed a long time ago with a two goal and a one man advantage at half time. Sphinx showed today that beating them takes some doing lately but Westfields must take some credit for responding to the come back in the way they did. I’d love to talk you through who had a good game but it was impossible to identify who was who in the conditions!
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 WESTFIELDS 3
MAN OF THE MATCH: SCOTT DUTTON
Darren Eggleton showed tremendous spirit, played his part in driving Sphinx forward and popped up with an assist again. Scott Lower led by example and was involved in creating both goals but my Man of the Match was goalkeeper Scott Dutton. He had to deal with almost impossible conditions and came up with important saves at key times in the match.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, McCALLA (King 85 mins), DOWNES, McATEER, EGGLETON, TOWERS, WOODWARD, HARKIN, BLACKMORE, DOWNIE (Motshweni 66 mins). Unused subs: Fesel, Hardwick, Cairns