Coventry Sphinx ended March with six wins out of six thanks to a 4-1 victory away at
Godmanchester Rovers in the Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South.
Sphinx had been beaten by Godmanchester at home earlier in the season but arrived in
Cambridgeshire in confident mood after leapfrogging Newport Pagnell Town into fourth
John Woodward and Shaun Thomas were without Loz Rawlings and Luke Downes, so
Lewis Noon shifted to right wing back and Sufyan Zia was named in midfield with Jack
Downes and skipper Callum Woodward for his first start in a Sphinx shirt.
Callum Martin continued on the left, with Tom Cross in goal behind a defensive trio of Jamie
Draper, Louis Guest and James Bryson. In-form duo Callum Stewart and Matthew Shipman
were again partnered up front – between them, they accounted for all four goals.
Sphinx have made a habit of fast starts in recent matches and this was no exception.
Stewart was straight into the thick of the action, bodying his marker on the edge of the
Godmanchester penalty area, turning and forcing goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose into a smart
The visitors had quickly set about the opposition and took the lead in the fifth minute.
Stewart received a throw-in on the right and worked the ball in-field, where a clip from
Woodward put the pressure on the defence. Noon cleverly found Stewart again and he
played a terrific one-two with Downes before slipping the ball between Greygoose’s legs.
They were attacking well but this Sphinx performance was built on excellence off the ball in
the early exchanges, and by the tenth minute they were in the lead and well on top. By the
eleventh, they led by two goals.
It was another superb goal from a team in good form. After collecting a loose ball on the
half-way line, Martin fronted up his man on the left wing and scorched past him into clear
grass behind the Godmanchester defence. His whipped cross was perfectly measured and
was met by Shipman, whose thumping header gave the goalkeeper no chance.
Despite their early supremacy, Sphinx had to keep their wits about them. Immediately after
scoring they went on the hunt again and were almost caught out from a turnover.
Godmanchester crafted a presentable opportunity from it and should have scored when the
ball was slotted across goal. Goalkeeper Cross was left with the chance to make an
impressive save and did exactly that.
But Sphinx were full of energy and refusing to allow the hosts a second on the ball. With 20
minutes played they were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal and Zia stepped up to fire
it towards goal on his full debut.
He opted for power and there was plenty of it, but the wall was strong and the ball made its
way back to Zia with the possible help of a Godmanchester hand. He volleyed the second attempt over the remains of the wall and Greygoose had to react quickly to keep it out.
Stewart roofed the rebound but the assistant referee’s flag was up.
A couple of minutes later Zia had another dead ball opportunity, further out this time, and
went for a curler. Greygoose was able to watch it over his crossbar but would soon be
beaten again as Sphinx extended their lead to three goals in the 25th minute.
It came from a throw-in again. Draper launched it into the right channel and Shipman flicked
it on. Godmanchester defender Frank Nzeh, impressive in the air throughout, looked to head
it clear but Stewart had read the situation and dropped deep to meet the ball. It bounced
once and he flashed a cracking left-footed volley in off the post. Greygoose wasn’t helped by
a nick off the same defender en route.
Sphinx controlled the remainder of a half that looked like it had more goals in it, but 3-0 was
the score at half time. They quickly got themselves on the front foot in the second half and
came close to a fourth goal five minutes in, Shipman heading just over after rising above the
crowd to meet a lovely Noon free kick delivery.
On the other side of a speculative attempt from the home side, Sphinx scored their fourth.
Stewart nicked the ball off a defender and set off into the area and along the goal line.
Showing his nifty feet, he took it past a defender and was fouled before he had the chance to
A penalty was awarded and he took it himself, sweeping it calmly into the bottom corner to
complete his sixth hat-trick of an extraordinary season.
In truth, Sphinx will feel they should have added more goals in the second half but four is a
substantial return on the road. The most frustrating moment came immediately after the
fourth goal, when Guest kept a corner kick alive at the back post and the ball appeared to
cross the line in the ensuing scramble. The assistant referee didn’t have the angle and no
goal was given.
The teams exchanged chances again with 20 minutes to go, Godmanchester’s effort sailing
over from a tame position and Stewart’s lob bouncing up and onto the crossbar after latching
on to a through ball at the other end. On any other day of this season so far, it would have
Sphinx nearly produced the goal of the season in the 73th minute, with substitute Jack
Kennedy, Downes and Stewart involved in a tremendous passing move. Greygoose was
equal to Shipman’s finish and it was his team that would have the final say.
It was a disappointing late goal to concede from a Godmanchester goal kick but a sharp
finish from substitute Jason Kissi, who then gave the Sphinx defenders something to think
about with a pair of long throw-ins that somehow avoided burning up on re-entry before
Cross punched them out of the crowd.
The visitors had one more chance in stoppage time, substitute Felix Donkor’s low shot
across Greygoose saved after Stewart had run at the Godmanchester defence one last time,
but a three-goal difference – though it felt slim after a dominant display – gave the away
support much to cheer about.
With a perfect March in the books, Sphinx move into the last month of the 2021/22 season
with five matches remaining. Four of those will be played at home and none of them will be
If the team can maintain the standards they've set for themselves this year, there's still plenty
left in the tank.
Cross, Draper, Martin (J. Kennedy), J. Downes, Guest, Bryson, Noon, Woodward (Donkor),
Shipman, Stewart, Zia (Billing). Unused sub: Fraser