Two wins out of two started Lee Knibbs reign as manager and on Saturday they made it three out of three in the league to cement their Top 6 position in the Midland Football League Premier Division. They again had to work hard for their victory with Shawbury coming back from two goals down before Ryan Harkin hit the Sphinx winner with ten minutes to go. Callum Woodward and Louis Guest had given Sphinx a two goal lead but two goals either side of the break levelled things up for Shawbury before Harkin proved the difference again to win it with his 9th goal of the season.
There were only two changes to the side that beat Rocester last weekend with Jean Dakouri missing out through injury and Nathan McGarrity taking a place on the bench for this fixture. In came two youngsters with Charlie Faulkner and Danny Bowes taking up wide positions in the Sphinx midfield. Shawbury may be down the wrong end of the table but recent results have been excellent. As expected, they proved difficult to beat but some quality finishing was the difference in the end.
Sphinx got off to a great start with a goal on 11 minutes and striker Harkin turned provider this time with a sublime through ball to WOODWARD who picked his spot and swept a sweetly struck shot past the exposed Shawbury keeper. An important first goal but Sphinx were by no means dominant and Sphinx keeper Jake Allingan had to be on his toes to come up with an important save to keep the lead intact on 18 minutes. Two big decisions went the way of the visitors in this half with a Sphinx goal ruled out due to an offside infringement earlier in the move and a big shout for the ball crossing the line also waved away. Sphinx did get their second goal in the 43rd minute which came from a long throw into the Shawbury box. Sphinx competed well for the initial throw and the loose ball fell to Louis GUEST who hammered in on the turn to double their lead. Sphinx then carelessly gifted Shawbury a lifeline in first half injury time. Quirke temporarily dealt with the danger by clearing for a corner but Shawbury out battled Sphinx in the box which led to a strike thumping the bar before Dan Beddows made no mistake with the follow up. A needless goal to concede with virtually the last kick of the half and that was enough to give the visitors hope going into the second half.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 SHAWBURY UTD 1
Shawbury came back out still looking more than hopeful of getting something from the game and on 55 minutes they were back level to complete their recovery from two goals down. They won a free kick just left of centre and a good 30 yards from goal. Captain Sean Evans decided to take on the shot and he will be glad he did after he watched his sweetly struck shot arrow around the wall and leave Allingan with no chance in the Sphinx goal. The scores were level and it was all to play for now. Sphinx responded superbly and it wasn’t long until Harkin rounded the keeper and thumped the near post with his shot. A relieved keeper turned to collect the rebound that fell straight to him. Harkin could also consider himself highly unlucky not to get on the score sheet when a perfectly good goal was ruled out for offside earlier in the half. The video proved conclusively that he was onside when he dispatched the ball into the back of the net. Samson Maagbe came on for his Sphinx debut and he made an immediate impact. Maagbe was also inches away from a debut goal with his drive whistling past the far post. Sphinx eventually got the goal they had worked so hard for with 80 minutes on the clock. HARKIN displayed great determination to drive away from the defender before striking a lovely effort across the keeper and inside the far post. 3-2 to Coventry Sphinx and now they had to withstand any late Shawbury pressure to claim the points. They did just that and although Shawbury gave them a tough game and made them work to the very end, Sphinx will feel they could have had at least one more goal. That’s irrelevant now with the points the only thing that matters at the end of the game. It wasn’t pretty at times but some quality finishing coupled with a real desire to win gave them the victory against a determined Shawbury.
Next up is another home fixture on Saturday 4th November when Quorn visit Sphinx Drive.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 3 SHAWBURY UTD 2
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Harkin
Jamie Towers has hit form and although he didn’t get on the score sheet today he provided an experienced presence in the Sphinx attack. Callum Woodward led his side by example again and hit a superb opening goal. Charlie Faulkner got his opportunity and grabbed it with both hands with an energetic display on the right but my choice is Ryan Harkin. Goals win games and as well as getting the winner he also set up the opening goal with a delightful pass. He was also very unfortunate not to score on another two occasions.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: ALLINGAN, LOWER (c), STRINGFELLOW (Maagbe 71 mins), CAIRNS, QUIRKE, GUEST, TOWERS, WOODWARD, HARKIN, FAULKNER (McGarrity 79 mins), BOWES. Unused Subs: Rooney, Stokes and Donaldson