After an encouraging win at the weekend Sphinx showed their inconsistent nature with a poor performance at Loughborough. They started well enough with a makeshift team but after the equaliser they got exactly what they deserved – nothing. The night started badly with manager Stuart Dutton blighted by unavailable players and having no choice but go with a 13 man squad. The team virtually picked itself with the biggest issue in defence with 3 of the back 4 changed from the previous game which included two centre midfielders in the back line.
Sphinx started well enough with Callum Woodward well involved with Downie on the right to set up the first of a few chances for Ryan Harkin. This effort went just wide and Loughborough responded with a dipping volley into the side netting. A run from Woodward was only stopped by a yellow card challenge outside the box and the resulting free kick by King thudded against the cross bar. Sphinx were unlucky not to take the lead there but luck was on their side soon after as a Woodward corner went in via the far post to put Sphinx in front after 16 minutes. Minutes later a great save from a close range header stopped Sphinx extending their lead and then a Downes drive whistled past the post. As we approached the 30 minute mark Loughborough established a spell of pressure in the Sphinx half and that soon resulted in an equaliser for the Students. The goal was a neat finish by Legg across Dutton and they were in front 4 minutes later with another smart finish by Ward-Cochrane. It was a rapid turnaround and suddenly Sphinx looked disorganised and were struggling to contain a lively Loughborough. Sphinx still looked a threat when they got the ball forward and a poor offside decision cancelled out what looked a perfectly legitimate equaliser by Harkin on the stroke of half time.
The second half was just three minutes old when Loughborough punished a Sphinx mistake in midfield in full with a quick break and finish by Rankin. Sphinx were looking far too open now as they chased the 3-1 deficit and despite the best efforts of Dutton in the Sphinx goal Loughborough got their 4th in the 58th minute courtesy of Oladado. Sphinx were clearly beaten already despite the continued efforts from Harkin who was providing the only goal threat for Sphinx. The final half an hour was summed up by a lack of defensive shape and that shouldn’t have been a huge surprise considering the makeshift look of the back line all night. The bottom line is that performance was nowhere near good enough but I don’t think the players need to be told that. They’ll know themselves that they are capable of far better than what we watched tonight and they soon have a chance to put that right with a home match on Saturday. I’m expecting a very different team to take the field on Saturday and there are very few who can complain if they are not in the side. A reaction is required to this defeat and I fully expect to see one on Saturday.
MAN OF THE MATCH: REECE BLACKMORE
Reece was asked to play out of position at centre back and gave it his best efforts and then he moved forward into midfield in the second half.He can at least go home knowing he put in a shift for the team and that’s all people ever ask for.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, CAIRNS, McCALLA, DOWNES, EGGLETON, BLACKMORE, DOWNIE (Hardwick 58 mins), WOODWARD, HARKIN, WINT (Motshweni 58 mins), KING