A fortnight ago Sphinx returned home with a point after an excellent performance at Boldmere and they were again denied all three points by a good Westfields side who twice came from behind to take a share of the spoils. Westfields are a top four side who have lost just one league game at Allpay Park this season and on this showing you can see why. They gave Sphinx a tough game in Hereford but a point each was a fair result in the end.
Stuart Dutton has got a tight squad together at the moment and they travelled down to Hereford on the coach with just one missing from the squad that did so well at Boldmere in the previous game. Dutts and his assistant decided on one change to the starting line up with Nathan McGarrity replaced by Ryan Harkin up front. Scott Lower took on the Captain’s duties again and Sphinx set about claiming a result from one of the toughest grounds to visit in the MFL Premier Division.
Sphinx made a good positive start to the game as they looked to press a Westfields side who were looking to play it on the ground at every opportunity. Sphinx capitalised on their promising start with the opening goal that came just 9 minutes in. WOODWARD burst forward through the middle and finished calmly into the bottom corner of the Westfields goal. An ideal start but plenty of work was ahead of them against a Westfields side that had already shown they were going to be a difficult side to beat. Sphinx were working hard to disrupt Westfields desire to play out from the back and to be fair to Westfields, they were coping pretty well with the high pressing tactic employed by Sphinx. When Westfields were forced long, the centre back pair of Lavery and Eggleton were dealing with what was thrown their way. The closest Sphinx got to extending their lead was Towers thundering an effort against the bar from close range after a Blackmore corner. The keeper did superbly well to paw the follow up effort over the bar but unfortunately for him the referee missed his save and awarded Westfields the goal kick!
HALF TIME: WESTFIELDS 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
Westfields emerged from the interval early and looked like a team intent on getting back on level terms at the very least. They immediately began to exert pressure on Sphinx and Scott Dutton was soon called into action to save with his legs after a foray down the left. Westfields got the equaliser on 63 minutes but it was only a misjudgement at the back that gave them the chance. Having said that, the finish from Ham was clinical and it was game on at 1-1. A double substitution swiftly followed from Sphinx with Cairns and McGarrity replacing Harkin and Wint. This change led to Downes moving out to the left and McGarrity taking on on the strikers role. Sphinx were playing more on the counter attack now as Westfields were having more of the game but Sphinx remained a threat all the same. Westfields looked certain to take the lead for the first time in the match on 76 minutes but the thud of ball on post prevented substitute Greaves from scoring with a stooping header. The Sphinx response was emphatic with Kieran McCalla producing a peach of a cross which WOODWARD met at the far post to head in off the post. His Chairman was stood directly behind the goal and I’m sure he would have enjoyed that one. Sphinx had defended superbly and that resilience was rewarded with a well taken goal of their own. Westfields continued to play with confidence as they were now looking for an equaliser again. The 82nd minute was the time for Scott Dutton to come up with arguably his save of the season. A left wing cross came in and a powerful driving header from Grant looked certain to nestle in the back of the Sphinx net. Dutton produced a combination of instant reactions and a strong hand to beat away the effort and yes, the save was that good. Saves like that are worth a goal and Scott should quite rightly be proud of that one. Westfields weren’t finished though and two minutes from time they found the equaliser they had worked so hard to get. Dutton saved the initial effort but Greaves was on hand to put away the rebound. Straight after the goal the assistant referee was spotted furiously waving his flag for an apparent incident after the goal. After a long conversation between the referee and his assistant, the referee brandished Red Cards to Westfields Captain Phil Glover and Sphinx defender Darren Eggleton. It was a surprising end to an entertaining game between two sides who had showed a real desire to play football in the right way. The referee wasted little time in blowing the full time whistle and after handshakes all round it was fair to say a point each was a fair reflection of the match. I’ve got to say that Westfields were once again great hosts and they have also got themselves a very good team. Sphinx would have taken a point before the match but they were agonisingly close to taking all three points.
Sphinx are next in action on Tuesday night away at Brocton and next Saturday they travel to FA Vase quarter finalists Sporting Khalsa who are currently 5th in the MFL Premier Division. If Sphinx keep playing with that attitude then they have every chance of getting results in those two games.
FULL TIME: WESTFIELDS 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: CALLUM WOODWARD
The centre back pair of Lavery and Eggleton looked like a good combination despite only playing their second game together. Harkin worked his socks off up front and McGarrity replaced him to do a similar job for the team too. Towers looked a threat on the right and did his fair share of defensive work too. Scott Dutton looked in good form and produced a sensational save but my Man of the Match is Callum Woodward. He’s popped up with both goals and his distribution from midfield was excellent. He was in pretty good form on the coach on the way back too!
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, McCALLA, DOWNES, EGGLETON, LAVERY, TOWERS, WOODWARD, HARKIN (McGarrity 68 mins), BLACKMORE, WINT (Cairns 68 mins)