Match report Coventry Sphinx 4-3 Coventry United 30.12.17
Clinical Sphinx take the points
This match had been much anticipated as the crowd of 643 testifies and Sphinx took the points after leading from the first minute to the last. Coventry Utd made them sweat for it though with Sphinx establishing a two goal lead three times and each time the visitors reduced the deficit. A first half double from Chris Sterling and headers from Quirke and Towers won the game for the hosts and extended their unbeaten league run to 10 games.
Sphinx made two changes to the side that returned from league leaders Coleshill with a point on Boxing Day. They were both attacking changes with Jamie Towers returning and replacing the suspended Callum Woodward in midfield and striker Chris Sterling starting instead of defender Ricky Hill. Sterling is on the way back from a long term injury and starts for the first time since his return.
Within a minute of kicking off we had the opening goal of the game with Coventry Sphinx taking the lead. The move started with Quirke playing a ball into the box, Faulkner picked up the loose ball and at his second attempt his driven cross was turned towards goal by Harkin. Scott Dutton reacted well to save but STERLING swooped on the loose ball to fire into the gaping net from close range. A dream start for Sphinx and it got even better midway through the half when Harkin burst into the box and was promptly brought down for a penalty. There was plenty going on before the spot kick was taken with a Coventry Utd injury to deal with and attempts to distract Sterling from the job at hand. STERLING wasn’t phased by the delay and sent Dutton the wrong way to make it 2-0 on 25 minutes. Coventry Utd got the goal back they needed just minutes later with a tremendous burst of pace and skill taking McDonald through the Sphinx midfield to go on to see his deflected shot nestle in the bottom corner. McDonald remained the chief threat to Coventry Sphinx but his two good chances saw Allingan comfortably stop a header and Allingan then watched a wayward effort sail high and wide. Reid also went close for Utd but his shot dropped wide of the far post. Sphinx threatened just before the break with Faulkner showing great pace to get into the Coventry Utd box. Once there he had his first shot blocked before stabbing the rebound wide of the post.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 COVENTRY UTD 1
McDonald squandered another decent opportunity for Coventry Utd in the early stages of the second half but Sphinx responded with some good football to create a chance for Harkin on the left of the box. Harkin hit a good shot on the turn but Dutton was equal to it with a flying save to keep out the Sphinx striker. Sphinx didn’t have to wait much longer to extend their lead. A deep corner was met by the head of centre back Michael Quirke and the perfect connection looped over Dutton and dipped under the bar to put Sphinx 3-1 up on 55 minutes. Back came Coventry Utd and on 63 minutes they reduced the deficit again with a tidy finish from former Coventry City and Coventry Sphinx man Lewis Rankin. The Sphinx response was instant with the two goal lead restored within a couple of minutes. A free kick was floated into the Coventry Utd box and Jamie TOWERS eased his way between defenders to nod in the fourth Sphinx goal. Coventry Utd weren’t done yet and for the third time in the match they cut the lead to one goal with a close range finish from McDonald on 70 minutes. Sphinx went looking for the 5th goal to finally put the game to bed and Harkin’s free kick clipped the foot of the post to let Coventry Utd off the hook. Late in the game Charlie Faulkner picked up his second yellow card and was sent off to leave Sphinx to see the game out with ten men. Sphinx did just that but Coventry Utd had pushed them all the way by refusing to give up. Shaq McDonald was the outstanding player for the visitors on his debut with him scoring two and setting up the other goal. Sphinx never relinquished the lead after going ahead in the first minute but the visitors ensured they would work to the last minute to be sure of the points.
That victory adds another three points to the Coventry Sphinx tally and lifts them to 4th in the Midland Football League Premier Division. Coventry Sphinx are next in action on Saturday 6th January when they travel to Shropshire to face Shawbury Utd.
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: CHARLIE FAULKNER
A day for bottle and desire and the team was full of it today. Liam Cairns and Jamie Towers got stuck into the midfield battle ground and their new partnership did the job for Sphinx. Quirke slotted back into the heart of defence and reminded Louis Guest that the other centre back knows where the net is too! Harkin went close to scoring on three occasions but the pace and direct running of Charlie Faulkner stood out for me today. His set piece delivery was also important and while he never got on the score sheet himself, he played key roles in goals.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM:
ALLINGAN, LOWER, STRINGFELLOW, CAIRNS, QUIRKE, GUEST, TOWERS, FAULKNER, HARKIN (McGarrity 90 mins), STERLING (Deehan 88 mins), DONALDSON (Bowes 60 mins)