Match report 13.11.2021 Sphinx 1-0 Northampton ON Chenecks

Match report 13.11.2021 Sphinx 1-0 Northampton ON Chenecks

By Sharon Taylor
13 November 2021
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By Chris Nee


Coventry Sphinx’s 1-0 win against Northampton ON Chenecks in the Uhlsport United
Counties League Premier Division South was a special one for the club. Before the game,
captain Callum Woodward placed a wreath on a new bench dedicated to Willie Knibbs, who
passed away while managing Sphinx in November 2001.
Along with Willie’s family, the club raised money for Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in his
memory, marking the twentieth anniversary of his loss and celebrating his life and legacy at
Sphinx Drive.
Sphinx welcomed Aaron Stringfellow back and he was named among the substitutes by
managers John Woodward and Shaun Thomas. Lewis Noon started in midfield alongside
Callum Woodward and Callum Stewart, and Harvey Smith played up front with Jamal
Adams.
The home team made a determined start in the sunshine but it was Chenecks who had the
first attempt on goal, a curling shot from distance that Sphinx goalkeeper Tom Cross
watched safely past the angle of post and crossbar.
Louis Guest, whose knack for a goal from a set piece has been very much in evidence this
season, would come close on a number of occasions. The first was a towering header from
a Woodward corner in the 15th minute, which came back off the bar with the Chenecks
goalkeeper beaten.
Sphinx were on top without hitting the high notes. In the 22nd minute left wing back Danny
Fraser provided a moment of genuine quality, however, and his pass set Adams clear in the
left channel.
The young striker was quickly tracked and the defender blocked his powerful cross up into
the air and back down onto the frame of the goal.
It was a frustratingly fruitless half for Sphinx. Half an hour in they had a succession of
corners, each of which asked big questions of the Chenecks defence, but it came to nought
when James Bryson headed the last of them back across goal. The goalkeeper’s touch flew
Guest’s way at speed and proved too hot to handle.
In the 34th minute Noon broke through the offside line with a superb pass to send Loz
Rawlings through on the right at the end of a classy Sphinx move. The goalkeeper continued
his fine performance for Chenecks with an excellent block to thwart the right wing back.
A few minutes later he almost found himself in trouble, though, with a kick that dropped short
of midfield. Woodward brought it down and tried to clip it in from 35 yards with his left foot. It
had an extremely high degree of difficulty even with the goalkeeper off his line, and the
Chenecks goal remained unbreached.
The last chance of the first half was an Adams creation. He raced onto a through ball from
deep, blazing past his marker to get there, and pulled the ball back for strike partner Smith.
Smith went with his left foot from the edge of the box but his low effort whizzed just wide. It
was close, as Sphinx had been several times, but the game remained goalless at half time.
Rawlings was heavily involved again as Sphinx came within a whisker of opening the scoring
in the fourth minute of the second half. His threaded pass released Woodward in the right
channel, and the captain swept a dangerous pass across the face of goal. Stretching, Smith
just couldn’t quite reach it for the vital touch.
Three minutes later the home team did take the lead. Fraser lifted a high cross in from a
deep position on the left flank and Adams was beaten to the header at the back post. But the
ball dropped to Rawlings on the edge of the box, and he shifted it from his right foot to his
left and found the bottom corner with a precise strike.
Smith soon tried to double the advantage with a low left-footed drive from the edge of the
area but the game settled back into its lumbering rhythm until Cross was called into action
just after the hour, saving well from a shot just inside his penalty box.
Sphinx weren’t found wanting for effort or attitude and weren’t in need of a wake-up call, but
soon after that Chenecks attack they started to enjoy their best spell of the match, playing
well and moving the ball through the lines before getting into good positions and holding the
ball up when it mattered.
Jack Downes, on as a substitute, went wide from 25 yards in the 65th minute but the next
chance of real note came against the game’s overall direction in the middle of the second
half.
Cross had to claim the ball at close range after a threatening pull-back got a slight touch
from an attacker. Had he got a better contact, Sphinx might have been in trouble.
14 minutes from time, Guest was hunting for a goal again. Woodward’s corner and the
defender’s header forced a strong save from the Chenecks goalkeeper, before substitute MJ
was fouled just outside the box and Guest headed just over from another Woodward dead
ball. He was a thorn in the visitors’ side all afternoon.
There was still time for the sides to exchange chances – Jamie Draper’s rasping first-time
shot from the edge of the box for Sphinx, a saved back-post header for Chenecks – but the
match wound to a relatively peaceful conclusion and three points for the home team.
As well as being a likely source of goals, the back three were tremendous defensively and
on the ball throughout the match. Fraser and Rawlings were excellent at wing back too,
offering a solid base from which Noon, Stewart and in-form skipper Woodward could work
with an industrious front pairing.
Regardless, it wasn’t a Sphinx performance that will live long in the memory – in truth, they
laboured at times – but grafting when the job needs doing is what makes the club what it is.
What looked on paper like it might be a straightforward win was anything but.
Every win is worth celebrating. This one, on a day with a deeper meaning, was worth
celebrating just that little bit more.

Teamsheet
Cross, Draper, Fraser, Noon, Guest, Bryson, Rawlings (Kavanagh), Woodward, Smith,
Stewart (Downes), Adams (MJ). Unused subs: Stone, Stringfellow

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