Saturday 3rd November - MJ Robinson Structures Arena
RESULT: SOUTH NORMANTON ATHLETIC 0-1 COVENTRY SPHINX
90’ Faulkner - Coventry Sphinx
If ever you needed a reminder that the old cliché of “there are no easy games in this division” was correct, then this game was it. South Normanton totally ignored their lowly league position to give Coventry Sphinx a really tough game. Sphinx thought they had won it when they were awarded a penalty with less than 20 minutes to go but the cross bar put paid to that. Sphinx never stopped looking for the winner though and they found it just as the clock hit 90 minutes with Faulkner putting away the loose ball in a crowded penalty area.
Sphinx had an unchanged starting XI from the midweek victory at Romulus although there were changes on the bench. Aaron Stringfellow returned and he was joined by Charlie Faulkner, Coventry Sphinx Under 18s striker T’ahje Smith and Under 18s defender Danny Bull. South Normanton started on the front foot but Sphinx soon settled with Grandison creating an opportunity for Downie to test the keeper with a guided header. South Normanton continued to have the better of things and were unfortunate to hit the post on 20 minutes. The follow up shot was dealt with superbly by Cross as he helped it over the bar. Sphinx were finding chances hard to come by but Cairns went close with a curling left footed effort going wide of the post. The interval came with the hosts probably much happier with how the first half unfolded but the game was still without score at this stage.
HALF TIME: SOUTH NORMANTON ATHLETIC 0-0 COVENTRY SPHINX
Sphinx looked like they needed to utilise their substitutes to improve and they did just that in the early stages of the second half with a double substitution. Faulkner replaced O’Grady in midfield and Stringfellow slotted back into the Sphinx defence to replace the injured Cairns. Faulkner was looking to be positive whenever he got on the ball but it was Harkin who came alive in the box on 72 minutes to win a penalty for Sphinx. Michael Quirke stepped up and opted for power but his spot kick cannoned off the hosts cross bar and that could well be a chance that Sphinx would regret not taking. Youth team striker, T’ahje Smith, came on for Ryan Harkin for the last 10 minutes as Sphinx took a final roll of the dice. South Normanton still looked well capable of finding a way through themselves as we headed into a tense last ten minutes in Derbyshire. Just as we approached the 90 minute mark, Callum Woodward was fouled near the corner flag on the right hand side. Sphinx loaded the box and Woodward whipped in a fine ball that South Normanton couldn’t deal with. FAULKNER was the one who got to the loose ball and he fired in from close range to spark joyous celebrations from Coventry Sphinx. Faulkner and his team mates headed to celebrate with their manager Lee Knibbs on a day when Coventry Sphinx were wearing black armbands to acknowledge the anniversary of the tragic passing of Lee Knibbs father. Willie Knibbs was manager of Coventry Sphinx at the time of his death and was returning from a cup game when tragedy struck.
It was a remarkable way to win a game today and while a draw would have been a more than fair result, Sphinx got the reward their persistence had earned. When the penalty was missed it would have been easy to think that today just wasn’t going to be our day but substitute Charlie Faulkner had other ideas and won the game at the very end.
FULL TIME: SOUTH NORMANTON ATHLETIC 0-1 COVENTRY SPHINX
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: TOM CROSS
Updated 13:30 - 4 Nov 2018 by Sharon Taylor
A tough game to stand out in today but Charlie Faulkner showed us the type of performance you need from your substitutes to make the difference. Michael Quirke may have missed his penalty but he was excellent in the Sphinx defence again. Tom Cross takes the plaudits again though. He made saves at critical times and was an authoritative presence in goal.
By Martin Sutton
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: CROSS, GUEST, PHILLIPS, DOWNIE, QUIRKE, HUDSON, CAIRNS (Stringfellow 58 mins), WOODWARD ©, GRANDISON, O’GRADY (Faulkner 58 mins), HARKIN (Smith 79 mins). Unused subs: Bull
Coventry Sphinx return to action on Saturday 10th November when they travel to Worcestershire to take on Stourport Swifts in the MFL Premier Division.