Match report 26.02.2022 Lutterworth Town 2-2 Sphinx

Match report 26.02.2022 Lutterworth Town 2-2 Sphinx

By Sharon Taylor
26 February
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By Chris Nee


It was inevitable that when Coventry Sphinx finally drew a match in the 2021/22 season, a
run of draws would follow.
In isolation, draws in the Buildbase FA Vase and against two teams higher in the league
table wouldn't be a poor sequence of results. But when they each involve a Sphinx lead lost
at the last and the Vase tie being lost on penalties, it certainly feels like one.
With the team now focused on a strong finish to their Uhlsport United Counties League
Premier Division South season, missing out on a couple of points away at Lutterworth Town
was an unwelcome kick in the teeth.
John Woodward and Shaun Thomas were without Lewis Chester, injured striker Harvey
Smith and captain Callum Woodward for this game, so Callum Martin stepped in at left wing
back and Lewis Noon, Jack Downes and Harvey Billing provided a busy midfield.
Matthew Shipman continued up front and would again have a massive impact in his first
league match since joining the club from Long Buckby in February.
Sphinx showed no early ill effects from the disappointment of a fortnight earlier, starting the
game in determined fashion and demonstrating a willingness to put feet and bodies where
they could get hurt.
Despite plenty of attacking intent from the visitors in the opening minutes it was Lutterworth
who edged in front with five minutes played. A long ball from goalkeeper Warren Butlin found
its way to Dan Tuck after a clear foul by two players on Sphinx centre back Louis Guest,
captain for the day, and Tuck did the rest to make it 1-0.
Thomas and Woodward’s team quickly got back on the front foot in search of an equaliser. In
the ninth minute, a Noon corner from the left was cleared back to him and he hit the byline to
clip in a left-footed cross. Guest’s header flew just wide of Butlin’s post.
Sphinx were level a minute later thanks to a spectacular strike by midfielder Billing. Shipman
faced up and took on a couple of defenders to make his way into the Lutterworth box, cut
back onto his right foot and laid a pass back to Billing 25 yards from goal. His first-time
rocket whizzed past Butlin and into the top corner.
After a whirlwind start to the match the away side settled nicely and took the game to the
opposition. They were up for the battle that faced them but they were making things happen
too. It was a competitive match made difficult by the opposition’s free rein to behave any
which way, but Sphinx gave as good as they got.
With 15 minutes played centre back James Bryson volleyed over after Downes had found
him with a lovely chipped pass in behind, and Sphinx continued to shade the meaningful
attacks even as the match evened out towards half time and tempers, predictably, began to
fray.
The match boiled over just before the break. The two teams disagreed with the referee’s
assessment of the flashpoint but what can’t be disputed is that one of the sides repeatedly
took their aggressive feedback too far on a number of occasions without censure from the
officials. Squaring up to a referee and shouting in his face typically results in sanctions.
The teams were level at half time and the visitors’ marginal supremacy dipped in the early
minutes of the second half.
Shipman's constant pressing almost paid off after 54 minutes but Sphinx were unable to
capitalise as they clawed their way back on top. A few minutes later a nice turn and shot saw
Shipman test Butlin, who recovered from a spill in time to beat Callum Stewart to the loose
ball.
Lutterworth gave Cross a simple piece of handling to deal with before Sphinx took the lead in
the 66th minute.
A scramble in the box led to a last-ditch clearance off the line but the ball eventually made its
way to Shipman outside the area. His low strike curved away from Butlin and went in off the
post to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
The match then deteriorated and slipped further from the grasp of the officials, who were
presented with an even more difficult task for the last quarter of the game.
As Lutterworth's pressure began to build and the spectre of previous points dropped began
to loom, the home team were awarded a pair of extraordinarily soft free kicks, the second of
which swung just over.
Sphinx were holding on and attacking only on the break but their resistance proved
inadequate with five minutes remaining. Lutterworth's rally paid off when a powerful Louis
Samuels effort arrowed into the top corner to save a point for the home side.
Drawing a few matches isn't a disaster but losing leads late in matches can knock a team's
confidence. This Sphinx team is made of stern stuff and must find a way to show it.
The first step in rebuilding their form involves holding on to a lead and seeing a game out.
They have the quality and character to do so, and there is no reason to believe a late winter
wobble cannot be banished as we move into spring.
March will be a busy month and there are plenty of points up for grabs. The task facing
Sphinx now is to get back to bagging them in threes in what's sure to be a challenging part of
the season.

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

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