Coventry Sphinx 2 Rocester 1
Sphinx move into the top 6 with narrow win
New Manager Lee Knibbs led his side to a second successive league victory which was enough to move them into the top 6 of the Total Motion Midland Football League Premier Division. The visitors gave them a tough game and took the lead early in the match but two clinical finishes from Jamie Towers gave Sphinx the points. The result could have been different with Rocester having their chances alongside a controversial goal line clearance where the decision went the way of the home side. That result completes the double over Rocester with Sphinx also winning 2-1 at Hillsfield earlier in the season thanks to a 93rd minute winner in Staffordshire. Fine margins are often the difference in this league and Sphinx have been on the right side of the line in both games.
Lee Knibbs named an identical starting XI to the previous league match against South Normanton. That win against South Normanton looked far better after South Normanton took a point off Worcester City this weekend. That also ended in a 2-1 win at Sphinx Drive and those two victories have moved Sphinx into the top 6. The bench had some alterations with new arrivals Jack Rooney and Aaron Donaldson taking the places of the unavailable Rhys Deehan and the departed Simeon Townsend who has joined Heather St Johns.
Sphinx looked lethargic in the opening period of the match and they were punished for their slow start when Rocester took the lead in the 13th minute. Rocester worked the ball into the box and finished the move with an accurate strike from Joe Brockley. That should have stirred Sphinx into life but Rocester were quick to threaten Allingan’s goal again just minutes later. The keeper came well out of his goal to deal with a loose ball but he was beaten to it by Rob Ritchie-Smith who smartly lobbed him and watched the ball dropping towards the goal until the rapid intervention of Stringfellow cleared the ball off the line and he collided with the post in the process. It only became apparent to me at half time that supporters of both sides were convinced the ball had crossed the line so that was a major let off for Sphinx by the sound of it. The Sphinx performance continued to be below the standard we expect but Rocester played a big part in that with a good first half performance. Just before half time, Sphinx started to show signs of getting their game going with a great passage of play releasing McGarrity down the left to send in a good cross that Towers headed low towards the foot of the post but Froggatt was up to the task in the Rocester goal and saved well to preserve their lead.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 0 ROCESTER 1
Lee Knibbs and his staff had clearly made a difference in the dressing room at the break with Sphinx immediately looking more positive and hungry in their play and they soon got back on level terms thanks to the McGarrity/Towers combination. The move started with a cross field ball from Woodward to McGarrity who did well to get close to the by line and drive in a powerful cross. Towers emerged from the bodies in the penalty area to pass the ball into the bottom corner, as cool as you like. 1-1 and Sphinx were right back in the game. Rocester were undeterred by the equaliser and looked as likely to win the game as Sphinx as the game developed into a really good contest. Dakouri often gets stronger as the game goes on and today was no different as he was the catalyst for the Sphinx winner in the 74th minute. Dakouri powered through the centre of midfield and made an excellent decision to pass to Woodward on the left of the penalty area. “Woody” did brilliantly to lift a cross to the back post and Towers rarely misses from there and buried his header to put Sphinx in front. Rocester had plenty of moments but poor finishing ultimately cost them although they will rightly point to the controversial goal line clearance in the first half that would have put them 2-0 up had it been given. Rocester gave Sphinx as tough a game as anybody this season and that was a big three points for Coventry Sphinx who had to work hard for their win today.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 ROCESTER 1
Sphinx now have a two week break before they return to action at Sphinx Drive on Saturday 28th October when Shawbury Utd visit from Shropshire. That is Halloween weekend and with Sphinx now into the top 6 there is no better time to get along to Sphinx Drive and support your club.
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMIE TOWERS
Jake Allingan again did well in goal and his distribution in particular is very good. Scott Lower looked close to his best at right back and his quality on the ball gives Sphinx a good outlet on the right. Dakouri really grew into the game and his power made more of an impact in midfield as the game went on. Ryan Harkin looked a threat but was frequently denied by harsh offside calls and McGarrity looked lively on the left when brought into the game. Woodward leads the team with a real desire to win and he got his reward by playing key parts in both goals. Jamie Towers was the key man for me today though. He scored both goals with clinical finishing, was a threat down the right and he showed the other side to his game by being vocal when necessary and shifting positions when the team needed it.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: ALLINGAN, LOWER (c), STRINGFELLOW, CAIRNS (Faulkner 81 mins), QUIRKE, GUEST, TOWERS, DAKOURI, HARKIN, WOODWARD, McGARRITY (Brown 73 mins)