4 months ago
By Sharon Taylor
Sphinx off to a solid start with away point
MFL Premier Division
Saturday 4th August
Highgate United 0 Coventry Sphinx 0
The fixture list handed Coventry Sphinx a tough start with an away match at one of the fancied sides and they stood up to the challenge with a well earned point on the opening day of the season. Sphinx had the better of the first half and the hosts had more of the second half so ultimately a draw was a fair result in the August heat.
Manager Lee Knibbs has retained the bulk of the squad from last season and has also been busy adding strength and depth to his squad during the summer. A few players were unavailable today due to holiday, injury and suspension so this squad depth was immediately tested. There were three debutants in the Coventry Sphinx starting line up with goalkeeper Tom Cross, midfielder Leigh Philips and forward Liam Rock all making their competitive debuts for Sphinx. Lewis Hudson and Chris Johnston also started after returning to the club for another spell during the summer.
Sphinx started off the brighter of the two sides and it wasn’t long before they had a big penalty shout for a handball. The referee was having none of it but Sphinx were convinced they had been denied an early opportunity to open the scoring. Sphinx maintained their early edge on the game but the Highgate keeper remained largely untroubled. Chris Johnston went close with an effort but he didn’t get the required power in his shot to threaten the keeper. The Sphinx midfield were getting through an extraordinary amount of work with Jackson Downie often being stopped by fouls. One foul on Downie appeared late and despite some calls for a red card from the stand the Highgate player received a yellow card for his challenge. It was Downie at the heart of things again soon after when he was brought down on the edge of the Highgate box when looking well placed to shoot. The hard working Liam Rock took the free kick but lack of power in the effort meant it was a comfortable take for the Highgate stopper. Sphinx ended the half on the attack but both sides had defended well so the score remained 0-0 at the break.
HALF TIME: HIGHGATE UTD 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
Highgate came out looking sharper and Tom Cross was soon called into action when he snuffed out a Highgate chance. At the other end Liam Rock was rewarded for his persistence when he dispossessed Highgate in a dangerous area. Rock flashed a ball across the six yard box but there was no one there to put the ball away for Sphinx. On the hour, Charlie Faulkner was introduced to the action when he replaced Liam Rock who had made a good impression on his Sphinx debut. Highgate were forcing Sphinx to defend more as the game went on but a combination of a solid defence and a midfield prepared to graft and compete kept Highgate at bay and helped Tom Cross keep the clean sheet the team had deserved. After the match goalkeeper Tom Cross commented: “Nice to get the season started with an away point and a clean sheet against a much fancied side.” There won’t be many sides who come away from Highgate with a result this season so that’s most certainly a point gained today. Coventry Sphinx matched their opponents throughout the match and they showed today they can show resilience in their play.
There were a number of performances that caught the eye today. Stringfellow slotted in at centre back and did a great job for the team. Phillips, Cross and Rock all made highly encouraging debuts. Centre midfield was a bit of a battle ground today and Cairns, Johnston and Downie stood up to the physical challenge superbly. The supporters voted for Jackson Downie as Man of the Match and his defensive and offensive play combined with his strength and discipline make him a worthy winner of the vote.
Sphinx get their home campaign underway on Tuesday 7 August, 7.45pm kick off at Sphinx Drive. Nottingham based Dunkirk are the visitors and the newly promoted club will be looking to build on their own opening day away point.
Updated 15:59 - 5 Aug 2018 by Sharon Taylor