6 days ago
By Sharon Taylor
MFL League Cup - 3rd Round
Tuesday 4th December - Sphinx Drive, Coventry
RESULT: COVENTRY SPHINX 0-0 COVENTRY UTD (Coventry Sphinx win 4-3 on penalties)
A local derby, a cup tie and a December night all combined to produce a match that may have lacked some quality at times but certainly delivered on tension and drama. With the deadlock remaining in place until the final whistle the match was settled with a penalty shoot out. It was Sphinx who held their nerve with four of their five spot kicks finding the target and sending Sphinx through to the quarter finals of the League Cup.
Sphinx manager Lee Knibbs opted for a change of shape and a change of personnel with leading scorer Ryan Harkin taking a place on the bench alongside Youth team striker T’ahje Smith. Another Youth team striker, Dan Kelly was also in the match day squad after signing first team forms recently but on this occasion he didn’t make the 16. His time will come, have no doubt about that.
The tackles were soon going in and it became clear that the referee was going to be fully tested tonight. Simon Lane was coming under intense pressure at times but it was to his credit that he kept every player on the pitch while others were baying for blood. There were chances for both sides but nothing that you would call clear cut and the battle for supremacy continued. Midfield was the main area of action but both defences were having the better of things. There was little to choose between them and it was deadlock at the interval.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0-0 COVENTRY UTD
Lee Knibbs was quick to make changes in the second half with the introduction of senior players Liam Cairns and Ryan Harkin. The double substitution also signalled a tactical change as Sphinx went looking for the opening goal of this keenly fought contest. Liam Cairns doesn’t often pop up with a goal but he was the man who surged through on goal but was thwarted by the visitor’s keeper in a one on one. That was the clearest chance for Sphinx so far and at the other end Sphinx keeper Tom Cross was always on hand to deal with any breaks through the Sphinx defence.
Penalties were going to have to settle this contest and everyone took their positions to watch the shoot out at the Turnstile end. Ryan Harkin took the responsibility of taking the first penalty and it was a straightforward finish. Tom Cross stepped up to take his place in goal and made the save to give Sphinx the early advantage. A successful penalty for Sphinx followed from Charlie Faulkner but a miss from Jackson Downie brought Coventry Utd back level. Quirke made no mistake with his penalty and Callum Woodward dispatched the fifth leaving Coventry Utd needing to score their final penalty to send it to sudden death. That final spot kick was too high to trouble the goal and Sphinx were left to celebrate their victory and progress into the quarter finals.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0-0 COVENTRY UTD
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: TOM CROSS
This game was no place for people who didn’t fancy the battle but Sphinx are well blessed with big characters for matches like this. The defence had a clean sheet for their nights work and goalkeeper Tom Cross barely put a foot wrong. “Crossy” is an imposing man to take on from the penalty spot and he was the key factor in Sphinx taking the win from the penalty shoot out tonight.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: CROSS, STRINGFELLOW, HUDSON, DOWNIE, QUIRKE, GUEST, JACKSON (Cairns 52 mins), WOODWARD ©, GRANDISON, O’GRADY (Harkin 52 mins), FAULKNER. Unused subs: Rock, Shaheen, and Smith.
Coventry Sphinx return to action on Saturday 8th December with an away trip to Lye Town this weekend.
Updated 16:08 - 5 Dec 2018 by Sharon Taylor