Match Report 08.01.22 Northampton ON Chenecks 0-2 Sphinx6-0 London Lions

Match Report 08.01.22 Northampton ON Chenecks 0-2 Sphinx6-0 London Lions

By Sharon Taylor
8 January
Share via
FacebookTwitter
https://www.pitchero.com/clubs

By Chris Nee


Coventry Sphinx bounced back from a New Year Bank Holiday defeat with a 2-0 win at ON
Chenecks in the Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South.
Shaun Thomas and John Woodward's side put in a dominant performance on a rain-soaked
pitch in Northampton. The team had to get stuck in from the start in order to control the
match, and they did just that.
Sphinx would have come away with a hatful of goals had their finishing been better. The
Chenecks goalkeeper certainly did his part too, producing a succession of impressive saves.
Woodward and Thomas welcomed a couple of senior players back into the team, with
Callum Woodward returning from suspension as captain and Louis Guest back in the
starting line-up after two appearances from the bench.
Zach Hallett replaced the unavailable Lewis Chester to get his first start at right wing back,
and Guest's selection enabled a move back into midfield for Jack Downes. He was joined
there by Woodward and Lewis Noon, while Loz Rawlings continued at left wing back and
Harvey Smith partnered Callum Stewart up front.
It was clear early on that a big shift would be required and there was every sign we'd get
one. After a battling start, the visitors were first to get a good look at goal. Stewart went one
on one in the fourth minute but had his shot saved; Hallett had an effort blocked on the
rebound.
After a header drifted wide from a Chenecks corner, Sphinx went close again in the 13th
minute. Woodward, Stewart and Smith combined well to carve out an opening for the
number nine, whose shot over was a mere hint of what would follow.
Sphinx were very much on top by the middle of the first half. With 20 minutes played,
Hallett's long throw was flicked on by Smith and Woodward's attempt was blocked before a
fine save denied Rawlings.
In the 28th minute the away team felt they were due a penalty for a foul on Stewart but none
was given and Jamie Draper had to be on his guard to make a solid block to snuff out a
dangerous attack at the other end.
Chenecks were on the attack again a few minutes later, goalkeeper Tom Cross saving easily
from a speculative shot, but Sphinx were otherwise in charge. Stewart cut in from the left
flank, took on two Chenecks defenders and had a scruffy effort saved.
The visitors put together a slick move in the 35th minute. Woodward won the ball in the
middle of the park and fired a lovely pass into the feet of Smith, who fed it on to Stewart with
a fine pass of his own. The young forward took his shot well but the Chenecks goalkeeper
was equal to it again.
Another Hallett throw-in was the precursor to the save of the game after 37 minutes. He
found Stewart, Stewart found Smith, and Smith found the goalkeeper's fingertips in the way
of a booming left-footed drive from 20 yards on its way to the top corner.
The resulting corner kick caused a spot of penalty area pinball and the visitors almost made
it 1-0 when James Bryson's scoop was cleared off the line via the crossbar.
No matter – Sphinx soon had the lead. In the next minute, Stewart went clear on goal again
and opted to take the ball round the goalkeeper. He succeeded, but a late foul brought him
down and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Stewart took the penalty himself and tucked it cleanly into the bottom corner to open the
scoring.
As the first half ended, Sphinx were rampant. A superb move culminated in a delightful dink
from Smith to Stewart, whose volley forced a terrific point-blank save as the goalkeeper kept
the difference at one going into the break.
The visitors quickly set about the search for another goal in the second half. Three minutes
in, an adventurous Hallett run was unceremoniously ended by a foul and Woodward's free
kick was glanced just wide by Smith.
A clever first touch from Stewart kept the ball alive in a threatening position a couple of
minutes later but he could only lob it onto the roof of the net. Sphinx kept pushing and soon
went close again from another Woodward free kick.
Yet another set piece saw Guest find the net with a header in the 52nd minute only for the
referee's whistle to cancel out the goal because of a foul.
Undeterred, Sphinx were in dominant mood. Hallett drove in from the left and had a shot
saved from a narrow angle, and just before the hour mark a sensational pass in behind from
Noon found Downes in search of his first goal of the season. Yet another athletic save meant
he had to settle for a corner.
The chances just kept on coming. Guest had a header cleared off the line from a corner.
Jamie Draper's follow-up was blocked. Guest had another header cleared off the line – or
from behind it, it appeared – from another corner. Stewart headed over from close range
from the next one.
So often teams are punished for not taking their chances and Chenecks found a groove,
briefly, in the middle of the half. A cracking late tackle from Draper snuffed out their best
opportunity but they continued to keep Sphinx honest with the visitors' barrage on the wane.
It was a false dawn. With 15 minutes left on the clock a backwards header from a Chenecks
defender fell short and Smith was into it in a flash.
He hit the byline and lifted a pinpoint cross to the back post, where Woodward was arriving
to cap a brilliant captain's performance by turning in a controlled finish on the volley. At 2-0,
Chenecks' resurgence was over.
With five minutes remaining, Stewart made a tenacious run into the box but was off-balance
when the time came to shoot, allowing the goalkeeper to grab the ball off his toes. Smith was
the next in line a minute later, shooting just over after sharp build-up play by Woodward and
Stewart.
Despite a number of chances spurned, it was a very satisfying afternoon for Sphinx and the
2-0 scoreline flattered the home team in Northampton. The attitude of both teams on a
weather-beaten pitch was first-rate and the result was an entertaining game that must have
been challenging but fun to play.
That it was played is to the credit of the referee, who showed no inclination whatsoever to
postpone it. There were a couple of muddy spots on an otherwise perfectly playable pitch
and it was refreshing to see everyone – officials included – want nothing but to get on with it.
Sphinx now have a break from league action and face the biggest game of their season so
far.
London Lions visit Sphinx Drive for the Buildbase FA Vase Fourth Round on the back of a
high-scoring win, at both ends, in their last league fixture. Sphinx getting back on track was
vital.
Teamsheet
Cross, Draper, Rawlings (Taylor), J. Downes (L. Downes), Guest, Bryson, Hallett (Billing),
Woodward, Smith, Stewart, Noon. Unused sub: J. Kennedy
Share via
FacebookTwitter
https://www.pitchero.com/clubs