A difficult match was always anticipated at Sporting Khalsa and that’s exactly what Sphinx got as the FA Vase quarter finalists dispatched Sphinx with relative ease in the end. Two late goals for Sphinx took the gloss off the score line for Khalsa but they were never really in any danger after the second goal went in on the hour mark. The winter weather had made an impact on a sticky pitch at the Aspray Arena in Willenhall but no excuses for Sphinx today as the better side took the 3 points.
A couple of changes for Stuart Dutton’s side today with Jamie Towers replacing the unavailable Callum Woodward and McGarrity starting up front in place of Ryan Harkin. Sphinx made a lively start to the match but Khalsa looked more of a threat when they got forward and they wasted little time in grabbing the opening goal on 13 minutes. A cross came in from the right, Khalsa headed the ball back across goal and an unmarked Luke Shearer gratefully side-footed past an exposed Dutton. That goal triggered a good spell for Khalsa but Sphinx weathered that and started to get a foothold in the game. Sphinx were still offering little threat in the opposition box and Khalsa continued to be the side to find the chances. The hosts went close when a header forced Dutton into a good save from a long throw by former Sphinx full back Jonathan Haynes and Dutton also reacted well to produce an excellent stop from a one on one situation. Half time was approaching and Sphinx had a couple of glimpses of goal with a Downes through ball releasing McGarrity down the left but his drive was superbly blocked by a sliding Khalsa defender. The second chance was on the stroke of half time when the best chance of the half fell to Sphinx with an unmarked Blackmore glancing a header just wide of the post from a free kick. Sphinx would need to conjure up a more consistent threat on goal to get anything from this game in the second half as they went into the break a goal down.
HALF TIME: SPORTING KHALSA 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
Sphinx opened the half competing well and looked capable of getting back into the game but a strong Khalsa defence was proving difficult to penetrate. This was resulting in a comfortable afternoon for their keeper and two Sphinx half chances never tested the keeper just before the hour. The first of those was a difficult volley from Cairns after good work on the right from Wint and the second was a long range drive from McGarrity. Khalsa then doubled their lead on 60 minutes with a ball in from the right not being cleared by the Sphinx defence and Luke Shearer eventually slamming in from close range. That goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Sphinx and Khalsa were now looking comfortable on their two goal lead. A double substitution was then made by Stuart Dutton with Gomez and Harkin coming on for the last 20 minutes. A Towers shot then forced the home keeper into a rare save albeit a comfortable one after a slight deflection took the sting out of it. Khalsa added a third on 76 minutes with a free header from Robinson and a fourth soon came after Perrin put away his chance with a good finish. Things were not looking good for Sphinx now but they showed some spirit with two goals in a minute around the 85th minute mark. The first was an accurate header from McCalla inside the post from a Blackmore free kick and the second was possibly the goal of the game from Harkin. The young striker cut inside from the left and unleashed a fierce drive across the keeper to reduce the deficit to two goals. It was too little too late from Sphinx and Sporting Khalsa had done more than enough to earn the three points today. After 4 consecutive away games, Sphinx are back in action at Sphinx Drive on Saturday when they welcome AFC Wulfrunians to Coventry.
FULL TIME: SPORTING KHALSA 4 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: SCOTT LOWER
Ryan Harkin came off the bench and his direct approach got him an excellent goal. Ryan is now the top scorer for Coventry Sphinx with 10 goals. Scott Dutton had a busy afternoon again and there was little he could do about the goals. Kieran McCalla continues to fill in at left back and came up with a nice goal. McCalla has a first class attitude and never lets the club down with his availability and that is worth praise alone. My Man of the Match is another man who never lets the club down. Scott Lower gave his all at right back and put in a Captain’s performance again.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, McCALLA, CAIRNS (Gomez 68 mins), EGGLETON, LAVERY, TOWERS, BLACKMORE, McGARRITY, WINT Harkin (68 mins), DOWNES