Coventry Sphinx travelled to North Warwickshire on Boxing Day and it was the league leaders awaiting them at Pack Meadow. Both sides were in good form and both sides were in the promotion hunt. A win would be a big result for either club but ultimately they both had to settle for a point in a pulsating match. Four goals, a red card and a penalty all combined to entertain the Boxing Day crowd with Sphinx coming back from two goals down to extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
Sphinx manager Lee Knibbs made two changes to his side with the returning Liam Cairns going straight back into midfield and Michael Quirke also went back into the side. They replaced Jamie Towers (unavailable) and Pawel Tomczak. There were no concerns over the conditions with the 3G pitch at Pack Meadow and Sphinx have a decent record on 3G. It was the hosts who struck first with an early goal that Sphinx would have been disappointed to concede. A cross from the right was headed against the cross bar and Halsall was quickest to the loose ball to steer it into the gaping net after just 8 minutes. Going a goal down away from home against one of the divisions best sides was going to test the mentality of Coventry Sphinx but they responded well. The match developed into a tight affair with two good sides going at it with little joy in each others penalty areas but it was Coleshill who would get the next goal to put Sphinx deep in trouble. Once again it was a cross that did the damage with Hicks on hand to guide it home. 2-0 to Coleshill with 36 minutes on the clock and Sphinx had it all to do now. We were getting close to half time and Sphinx were close to getting a goal back with Louis Guest threatening the home goal from a corner. On the stroke of half time things erupted with the referee judging a Guest challenge as firm but fair before Coleshill’s Halsall responded with a challenge on Sphinx midfielder Liam Cairns that the referee deemed to be sufficiently bad enough to warrant a straight red card. Things soon settled back down and we went into the break with the home side having a clear advantage of two goals.
HALF TIME: COLESHILL TOWN 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
Lee Knibbs is often positive in testing situations and today was no different as he introduced two strikers to the action for the start of the second half. Sterling and Tomczak replaced midfielder Donaldson and defender Hill which led to a change in formation and other players moving position. It was a brave move to attempt to retrieve the two goal deficit but it was Coleshill who threatened first with Allingan forced into a near post save. Sphinx were having more of the ball this half but Coleshill were still showing a threat and Sphinx were forced to defend bravely to eventually clear the danger just past the hour mark. Knibbs then made his final change with McGarrity replacing defensive midfielder Cairns which effectively left Sphinx with five forwards on the pitch. Straight after the substitution Sphinx got three successive corners and they got the third one spot on with Louis GUEST rising to head home on 65 minutes. That is fast becoming a trademark finish for the centre back who now has six goals to his name this season. Sphinx were now back in the game with that goal and minutes later Guest almost equalised with another header. Coleshill now had to withstand some pressure from Sphinx but succumbed in the 73rd minute when Harkin was clipped in the box for a clear penalty. Callum WOODWARD took the responsibility of the spot kick and dispatched it with apparent ease to level up the scores. This set up a tense final 20 minutes with both sides seemingly unwilling to settle for a point. Harkin went close for Sphinx by forcing a good save from the Coleshill keeper but the last few minutes were Coleshill’s however as they pushed for a winner. Sphinx were hampered by an injury to centre forward Tomczak who was struggling to move but with all three subs used he stayed out on the pitch. Coleshill themselves had played the second half with ten men although the one man advantage wasn’t obvious the majority of the time. Sphinx defended well to secure the point and both defences performed well today which made a draw a fair result in the end. Clear chances were limited for both sides but that is often the case when two good sides come up against each other.
Sphinx came here to win but they’ll take the point and move on to the next fixture which is a home match against Coventry Utd on Saturday 30th December. It’s a 3pm kick off at Sphinx Drive and a big crowd is expected so arrive early.
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: CALLUM WOODWARD
Louis Guest defended with great determination and popped up with an all too familiar goal again. Liam Cairns returned from a spell away and performed well in the Sphinx midfield. There was one man who summed up the Coventry Sphinx team today and that was Callum Woodward. He plays with heart, desire and quality and leads by example. He also showed great composure to put away the penalty that got Sphinx a well earned point.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: ALLINGAN, LOWER, STRINGFELLOW, CAIRNS (McGarrity 63 mins), HILL (Tomczak 46 mins), GUEST, FAULKNER, WOODWARD, HARKIN, QUIRKE, DONALDSON (Sterling 46 mins). Unused subs: Barnwell, Bowes
Picture courtesy of Reg Cave.
Updated 20:41 - 31 Dec 2017 by Sharon Taylor