It’s been a long time coming but the football season was back underway on Saturday with an Extra Preliminary Round FA Cup tie at Sphinx Drive. The Groundsman, Paul Wright, has worked hard on the pitch during the summer and his efforts have produced an immaculate looking playing surface. The English summer delivered an impressive spell of heavy rain hours before kick off which produced a slick playing surface for the two MFL Premier Division teams.
Coventry Sphinx manager Stuart Dutton has also put in the hours during the summer with the squad looking stronger as a result. A number of new players have joined the squad to compliment the many players he has retained from last season. However, there were a few key players absent today and that combined with the untimely recent loss of midfielder Reece Blackmore to Bedworth Utd meant there just five players in the starting XI who were with the club last season. The team looked strong though with the debutants Chris Sterling and Alex Tomkinson recruited from a higher league and returners Ricky Hill and Louis Guest having played at a higher level in their time away from the club.
A perfectly timed thunderstorm gave us a soaking just as the game kicked off so the first half was played in autumnal conditions and it was hard to believe it was the first weekend in August! The pitch took the water superbly although a few players were struggling to stay on their feet with the slippery surface. Sphinx went with pace up front and the imposing presence of newly signed centre forward Curvin Ellis had to settle for a place on the bench. A make shift Sphinx back four were all centre backs by trade but it was a necessary selection with the first choice full backs unavailable today. Boldmere were enjoying their best forays forward from wide positions and were certainly having the better of things but Sphinx went agonisingly close to going in front in the 14th minute. Initially Callum Woodward saw his drive thump the foot of the post and that was followed by two close range saves and a clearance to keep the Boldmere goal intact. Both sides were looking to be positive with the ball but it was the visitors who were looking most likely to score. Sphinx did have their chances with Harkin shooting just wide and shortly before half time Tomkinson headed over an excellent Harkin cross. Overall, not the best half from Coventry Sphinx and Boldmere would certainly be the happier of the two teams at the interval.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS 0
The second half started with a bang with a key minute of play. Sphinx debutant Chris Sterling played in strike partner Ryan Harkin and his pace took him into the penalty area where he rounded the keeper and looked certain to tap it into an empty net but a defender recovered brilliantly to nick the ball off his toe with a sliding challenge. Superb defending and Sphinx were immediately punished with some sloppy defending gifting Boldmere the opening goal. Sphinx repeated the trick just before the hour with another defensive mistake allowing Boldmere to double their lead. A real uphill task for the hosts now in a game that didn’t look likely to produce a glut of goals. Boldmere were excellent with their game management and Sphinx couldn’t find a way to break them down. Boldmere continued to threaten on the counter attack without over committing men forward and ultimately they got the victory they had deserved.
Today’s Coventry Sphinx performance wasn’t good enough and they are capable of far better than they showed today. A disappointing start to the season but they soon have the opportunity to put that right when they visit newly promoted Haughmond next Saturday.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 BOLDMERE ST MICHAELS 2
MAN OF THE MATCH: CALLUM WOODWARD
A lot of his best work was in defensive areas of midfield and he played like a man who wasn’t going to take defeat easily. Also a mention for Nathan McGarrity who looked a threat on the right when he got the service.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, EGGLETON, HILL, DAKOURI (Cairns 56 mins), QUIRKE, GUEST, McGARRITY (Gaggini 65 mins), WOODWARD, STERLING, TOMKINSON (Ellis 65 mins), HARKIN. Unused Subs: Reynolds, Donaldson, Knight, Obimpeh
Updated 18:33 - 6 Aug 2017 by Sharon Taylor