Match Report 01.03.22 Sphinx 5-0 Cogenhoe United

Match Report 01.03.22 Sphinx 5-0 Cogenhoe United

By Sharon Taylor
2 March
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By Chris Nee

Coventry Sphinx bounced back from a frustrating February by putting five unanswered goals
past a decent Cogenhoe United side on the first day of March in the Uhlsport United
Counties League Premier Division South. Callum Stewart’s fourth hat-trick of the season
stole the show at Sphinx Drive.
Joint managers John Woodward and Shaun Thomas welcomed captain Callum Woodward
back into the squad and he joined Lewis Noon on the bench as Sphinx rotated their midfield
options, bringing Luke Downes into the starting eleven alongside Jack Downes and Joe
Stewart played up front with in-form Matthew Shipman, while Callum Martin and Loz
Rawlings continued in the wing back positions. Louis Guest skippered the side again in
between James Bryson and Jamie Draper at centre back, in front of goalkeeper Tom Cross.
Although they ran up a big score in the second half, Sphinx had to be patient before finally
going ahead deep into the first.
Another fast start from the team led to a speculative shot from Jack Downes, which bounced
up into the arms of Cogenhoe goalkeeper Ben Westwood in the second minute. Five
minutes later a good move involving Smith and Rawlings resulted in Stewart driving into the
penalty area and firing a low shot wide from a tight angle.
From the goal kick, Sphinx pinched the ball back and Martin went over with a first-time shot.
The home team’s ability to gain possession through their pressing forwards would be a
theme of the match.
Sphinx had started well but Cogenhoe played some tidy football early in the match.
Nevertheless, it was the home team making the chances. With ten minutes played Shipman
flicked on a pass from midfield and Stewart went through on Westwood’s goal. The angle
was against him again and the attempted chip didn’t go to plan.
Smith and Shipman had chances as their team rose to the position of dominance they would
occupy for almost the whole game. Westwood had to drop sharply to turn the latter’s effort
around his post in the 19th minute but the pressure was building on the Cogenhoe goal.
Sphinx’s quality drifted just slightly in the middle of the first half as the conditions started to
deteriorate, but the likelihood of Shipman intercepting a pass in the attacking third remained.
At one point it seemed the likeliest route for Sphinx to break the deadlock.
Instead, after chances came and went for Shipman and Rawlings – and a neat piece of
handling from Cross to prevent a nasty deflection finding its way into the net at the other end
– it was a piece of good luck that gave Sphinx the lead in the 38th minute.
Westwood had not long since spilled the ball with Shipman sniffing in the six-yard box and
been fortunate to watch it wide. There was to be no such let-off the next time.
Rawlings whipped in a corner from the Sphinx left and Bryson’s towering header kept it alive
at close range. After a short scramble, Smith was instrumental in the ball finding its way back
out to Rawlings, who met it with a firm first-time shot that zipped towards the near post.
Unfortunately for Westwood and Cogenhoe, the ball squirmed through his gloves and then
his legs, crossing the line to put Sphinx in front.
As the wind picked up, the match threatened to get bogged down in the kind of midfield
battle that had been such a feature of the recent fixtures that had ended in disappointment.
This time, crucially, Sphinx were able to add to the scoresheet at key times, starting with the
last minute of the first half.
The first goal of Stewart’s three was a corker. Smith, capping a tremendous 45 minutes in
midfield, carried the ball out of defence and played a delicious one-two with Rawlings before
passing it into the feet of the forward.
Stewart turned, took on a defender, shifted it onto his right foot and blasted it in off the bar
from another narrow angle. It was no more than Sphinx deserved from what was becoming
an impressive performance. Shipman had been off the field with a blood injury for some
Determined not to let another lead slip away, the home team roared out of the traps again in
the second half. Within a minute Stewart was in a promising position again, this time taking
the time to square it for Luke Downes, whose left-footed shot went over the crossbar.
But it was a more patient approach that gradually turned Sphinx’s supremacy into goals in
the middle of what became a more measured spell. Cross had to save well from a second
deflected effort to keep Cogenhoe at arm’s length on the hour, and then the hosts turned on
the style.
Smith headed wide from a Rawlings cross before Sphinx thought they’d scored a third.
Rawlings took a superb corner and Shipman powered in a header that looked to have gone
over the line. No goal was the decision from the assistant referee but Sphinx were buzzing.
After briefly dropping ten yards and looking to hit Cogenhoe on the break, Thomas and
Woodward’s side found scoring a much more effective way of killing off the contest.
In the 69th minute Shipman received the ball just inside the area with his back to goal,
showing terrific strength and nifty footwork to keep possession despite the attentions of the
defenders around him. Stewart nipped in, took it off his toes and was suddenly one on one
with Westwood. There was only going to be one outcome and Sphinx had a third.
The visitors had no response and three quickly became four. Luke Downes sent a decent
attempt just over in the 71st minute and Stewart scored to complete his hat-trick a minute
later. Rawlings had two bites at the crossing opportunity and Stewart used his upper body to
beat the goalkeeper to the second before keeping his balance and tucking the ball home
from close-range for 4-0.
With the result now beyond doubt, the visitors struggled to affect the match and Sphinx were
finally able to enjoy themselves. Eleven minutes from time Bryson produced a buccaneering
run up the left before the move broke down. He won the ball back while retreating and curled
a shot just over the bar.
Draper also got involved in the attacking action, driving in a 25-yarder that clipped the right
post on its way wide. Seconds later, Shipman hit the same post with the same result.
Cogenhoe squandered their first attack for a long while with a harmless shot wide in the
82nd minute, and five minutes later Shipman grabbed the goal his third stellar performance
had deserved, scoring for the third consecutive match.
Rawlings was fouled just outside the box on the left, not far from the goal line, and substitute
Harvey Billing curled a pinpoint free kick to the back post. Shipman, completely unmarked,
thumped a free header back across goal and into the net. Sphinx were 5-0 up and there was
no doubt over Shipman’s header this time round.
Although the team’s forwards ensured that the game was won comfortably, the importance of
a clean sheet after lost leads in the previous three matches can’t be overestimated. Ably
protected by Smith and the Downes brothers, defenders Guest, Bryson and Draper stood
firm. Cross was reliable on the few occasions that demanded his input.
The 5-0 scoreline might make this fixture look like it was an easy one but that certainly
wasn’t the case. Sphinx won by a big margin because of a really good display all over the
park, absorbing Cogenhoe’s few threatening moments with ease and staying composed
enough to ride out an opening half-hour that was full of chances but precious little luck.
After the fortuitous goalkeeping mistake that gave them the lead, everything seemed to go
their way. That’s what happens when the attitude is right and the work rate stays at its
Cogenhoe have had some excellent results this season but they’ll be sick of the sight of us.
With the fixtures coming thick and fast in March, it would be great to condemn a few others
to the same thought.

Cross, Draper, Martin (Hallett), J. Smith (Billing), Guest, Bryson, Rawlings, J. Downes,
Shipman, Stewart (Donkor), L. Downes. Unused subs: Woodward, Noon

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