Monday 29th October - Castle Vale Stadium
RESULT: ROMULUS 0-1 COVENTRY SPHINX
60’ Grandison - Coventry Sphinx
Coventry Sphinx produced a classic away performance in Castle Vale on Monday night with Joel Grandison getting the winner on the hour to make it two goals in two games since he joined the club. Minutes from the end Tom Cross made sure of the points with an outstanding penalty save and Sphinx went on to see out the game. Hard work and desire won this game and they got their reward with a clean sheet and a well worked goal to take all the points against Romulus.
Availability issues, particularly in defence, led to some players taking up unfamiliar positions in the team but a first class attitude meant the likes of Hudson, Phillips and Cairns took to their roles well. Callum Woodward led his team on the 3G pitch tonight and John Woodward and Shaun Thomas led from the dugout in the absence of Manager Lee Knibbs.
The squad were wearing black armbands for this fixture to mark the anniversary of the tragic passing of club man Paul “Gibbo” Gibbons who was taken from us 9 years ago and they did him proud tonight with a hardworking display.
Sphinx started brightly and within five minutes Harkin was acting as provider with a fine cross that Grandison was unfortunate to fire over the bar. The next attack was led by Harkin and he went on his own this time to force Belford into a good save. It developed into a well-balanced match but it was Sphinx creating the better chances. 19 minutes in and they went the closest yet with an intelligent corner kick from Woodward going to O’Grady and his first time shot crashed off the Romulus cross bar. The tempo of the game was good with the ball zipping about on the 3G surface. Romulus steadily built up their own spell of pressure with multiple balls into their strikers forcing Sphinx to defend resolutely. Their best chance was on 36 minutes with Tom Cross saving smartly at his near post. Romulus continued to have the edge approaching half time but the Sphinx defence stood strong against the aerial attack they came up against at times. Sphinx had their spells in this half too but we went into half time with no score.
HALF TIME: ROMULUS 0-0 COVENTRY SPHINX
Harkin and Grandison were looking lively up front for Sphinx and it was Grandison who opened the scoring fifteen minutes into the second half. A fine ball out of the Sphinx midfield sent Leigh Phillips away down the left. Phillips was quick to get his head up and sent in a great ball across the six yard box where GRANDISON was on hand to fire Sphinx into the lead. It was a fine goal and despite the vigorous protests from Romulus who were claiming an offside, the goal was good and Sphinx were in front. Sphinx didn’t look like settling for the one goal and they couldn’t afford to do that with Romulus continuing to provide their own threat. Romulus were very nearly punished on 67 minutes when a rapid Sphinx counter attack ended with Belford making a flying save from Josh O’Grady. Romulus never gave up and continued to load the ball into the box whenever they could. We were into the last ten minutes when the referee waved away a penalty shout for the home side but minutes later Romulus got the penalty they were after. Goalkeeper Tom Cross was now the man in focus and he produced the goods with a marvellous save to keep out a well struck spot kick. The save was celebrated like a goal and rightly so. It was a save worthy of recognition and Sphinx made sure it was a big save by seeing out the game to maintain the clean sheet and take the win in Castle Vale.
A clean sheet and a well taken goal were enough to win this contest for Coventry Sphinx and the performance proves the point that more often than not that the right attitude and work rate across the team gets rewards.
FULL TIME: ROMULUS 0-1 COVENTRY SPHINX
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: TOM CROSS
The defence were worked hard with some direct attacking play from Romulus but they competed right until the end. Liam Cairns deserves a mention with his wide role testing him tonight but he got his head down and got on with doing the job his team needed from him tonight. Leigh Phillips switched to the left tonight and showed us his left foot can be useful too with a fine assist for the winning goal. The midfield never stopped working and Harkin and Grandison led the attack with a hard working performance from the front pair. It was Grandison who got the winner tonight but Harkin more than played his part. Goalkeeper Tom Cross takes the honours tonight with a solid performance topped with an outstanding late penalty save that ensured Sphinx won the game. Cross provides a real presence in the Sphinx goal, got the clean sheet he deserved and got the praise he had earned with the crucial penalty save.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: CROSS, GUEST, PHILLIPS, DOWNIE, QUIRKE, HUDSON, CAIRNS, WOODWARD ©, GRANDISON, O’GRADY, HARKIN (Faulkner 81 mins). Unused subs: Jackson, Palmer and Rock.
By Martin Sutton
Image courtesy of Stuart Guest
Coventry Sphinx return to action on Saturday 3rd November when they travel to Derbyshire to take on South Normanton Athletic in the MFL Premier Division.
Updated 14:49 - 30 Oct 2018 by Sharon Taylor