Guts won this game, make no mistake about that. A combination of suspensions, injuries and unavailability meant the Gaffer was forced to play a number of players out of position with defence hardest hit as two midfielders took up the full back positions. Sphinx took the lead after breaking away from a Dutton penalty save and were then reduced to ten men in the second half. That didn’t stop Sphinx going into a 3 goal lead and despite a late consolation goal from Tividale they got the points they had worked hard for.
There were four changes to the team on Saturday before they beat AFC Wulfrunians at Sphinx Drive and there were a further three changes tonight. The most telling of those were in defence with midfielders Jack Downes and Luke Downes filling in at full back. Right back Scott Lower moved into the centre to cover the absence of Appleton and partner McCalla. Harkin started up front alongside McGarrity after Harkin’s match winning display from the bench at the weekend.
Tividale had a youthful looking side out including former Sphinx man Charlie Wilson up front. The hosts started with the energy you would expect but Scott Dutton remained relatively underworked in the Sphinx goal. Tividale got their first real sight on goal on 12 minutes but the cross from the right was skied over the bar by the incoming striker. Tividale were having more of the play but when they had the chance to shoot they were wayward with their efforts. Then came the key passage of the half with Tividale getting a penalty in the 22nd minute. The spot kick was struck hard and low but Scott Dutton was equal to it and dived low to his left to beat away the effort. The Sphinx goal remained intact and the Sphinx response was instant with Ryan HARKIN being sent through on goal. His first shot was saved but he buried the rebound to give Sphinx the lead on 24 minutes. Manager Stuart Dutton made an adjustment to his makeshift defence just before half time with Jack Downes making way for Tom King. This resulted in Lower shifting to right back and Blackmore dropping back into the centre of defence. King went in at left back which allowed Luke Downes to move forward into his more familiar midfield role.
HALF TIME: TIVIDALE 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 1
Tividale started the half well looking for a way back into things but any saves Dutton made were comfortable from hopeful efforts. Just as we approached the hour things appeared to have turned in Tividale’s favour with a very harsh Red Card for Reece Blackmore. Reece appeared to have been stamped on near the edge of his own penalty area. The referee choose to ignore any offence by the Tividale man but appeared to Send Off Blackmore for his reaction. I challenge anyone not to react if they believe they have been stamped on. There appeared to be a huge element of doubt as to what had happened but the referee was not letting that stop him brandishing the Red. Disappointing to say the least and yet more changes to the Sphinx defence were required with Lower moving back into the centre and Cairns having a go at right back. Of course, the best response to a setback is to go and score and that’s exactly what Sphinx did and it was no other than that man Ryan Harkin again. Kiembi was threatening on the “D” of the Tividale box and was stopped by a foul. HARKIN stepped up and hit a perfect free kick just inside the keepers right hand post. An absolute peach of a goal and an important two goal advantage for Sphinx as they went into the last half an hour with ten men. The bad luck continued with a clash of heads resulting in a nasty head wound for Scott Lower. Sphinx physio Lynton Wilkinson did really well to get Lower back on the pitch but Sphinx had played for a go0d few minutes with nine men with Tividale unable to capitalise. Sphinx again responded to a setback with a fine goal in the 80th minute. A good free kick delivery was met by the head of TOWERS in the penalty spot area and his inch perfect header left the keeper rooted to the spot as it nestled in the top corner. Lower could continue no longer and was withdrawn and with no defenders on the bench Towers had to fill in at centre back for the last ten minutes. Guts had been required in abundance in this game and we got that in bucket loads from the Sphinx lads tonight. Tividale eventually took advantage of the Sphinx back line and got a goal on 84 minutes and they squandered a one on one a minute later but Sphinx had worked their socks off to come away with the result and got exactly what they deserved.
Sphinx are next in action on Saturday when they play Coventry Utd at Sphinx Drive.
FULL TIME: TIVIDALE 1 COVENTRY SPHINX 3
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: SCOTT LOWER
Harkin won the match with his goals again but I’ve gone for Scott Lower. Shifting backwards and forwards across the back line and attempting to play on with a head injury were the actions of a man leading by example. I heard him described as a Warrior last night and that sums him up perfectly.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, J.DOWNES (King 37 mins), L.DOWNES, CAIRNS, LOWER (Gomez 81 mins), McCALLA, TOWERS, BLACKMORE, McGARRITY, HARKIN, KIEMBI (Adjei 72 mins)