Match report 30.10.2021 Sphinx 1-2 Godmanchester Rovers

Match report 30.10.2021 Sphinx 1-2 Godmanchester Rovers

By Sharon Taylor
30 October 2021
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By Chris Nee

The ultimate truth of football’s mass appeal is that you can’t win without losing. You might
think you’re winning. Depending on who you support you might even have developed a
belief that you’re entitled to it. But if you can’t lose, you can’t win. Not really.
You’ll never feel the same depth of elation because you don’t have the fullness of experience
to compare it against. Football’s supposed big winners – the superclubs and dynasties and
habitual champions – are actually the ones who miss out on what football really means.
In a sense, then, it’s fortunate that Coventry Sphinx’s run of autumn wins was brought to an
abrupt end by a home defeat against Godmanchester Rovers in the Uhlsport United
Counties League Premier Division South.
The enforced absence of midfielders Callum Woodward and Jack Downes meant starting
berths for Josh Willis and Patsun Tufan, who made his first appearance for Sphinx in the
2021/22 season after a summer move to Bedworth United.
Sphinx were beaten by the odd penalty in three, all awarded and scored in the first half of a
match that threatened to boil over on numerous occasions but never quite reached the
necessary temperature. 2-1 flattered the visitors but it’s difficult to argue Sphinx deserved
much better.
The hosts made a dangerous start. In the third minute, Ryan Harkin was released by a fine
ball into the left channel and matched it with the quality of his own pass into the box for
Callum Stewart. He turned and teed up Willis, whose shot went wide.
Harkin soon went clear again, on the right this time, thanks to a tremendous pass on the
break by strike partner Harvey Smith. Harkin strode into the area and chopped back on to
his left foot, but Godmanchester goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose got down well to make the
Sphinx goalkeeper Tom Cross had to field a rather tamer effort at the other end but Sphinx
were starting to get to grips with the game after the first quarter of an hour. In the 17th
minute, a throw-in was taken to Smith on the right. The striker let the ball run across his body
and ripped a powerful left-footed effort just wide from 25 yards.
By the middle of the half it was an evenly matched affair. The visitors looked to carry a
threat, Sphinx marginally more so, but the turning point came in the 23rd minute when left
wing back Danny Fraser was adjudged to have fouled Godmanchester’s Lawrence
Hammond in the box.
Ross Munro took the penalty kick and fired it beyond the reach of Cross, whose dive to the
right would have thwarted a less assured strike. Sphinx were frustrated to be behind and the
Godmanchester goal knocked them off their rhythm.
They were given cause for complaint a few minutes later when Sphinx’s Jamie Draper was
shown the first yellow card of the match after the referee’s patience with Godmanchester
fouls finally ran out.
They rallied nonetheless and soon got themselves back on level terms. Stewart’s through
ball teed up Harkin for an early shot that Greygoose held in the 36th minute, and Harkin was
the man whose ankles were clipped in the six-yard box, with his back to goal, two minutes
later. Stewart confidently swept the penalty low to Greygoose’s left to make it 1-1.
In the last minute of regulation time in the first half Willis narrowly missed the top corner with
a left-footed blast from 25 yards, and it looked like the teams would head in for the break at
level pegging.
But stoppage time was full of incident to the detriment of the home side. Three minutes into
it, and after a long discussion between the referee and one of his assistants, there was a
booking apiece for an off-the-ball matter on the touchline.
Perhaps because earlier clashes went unpunished, the match had become increasingly
ill-tempered and it was no surprise when Fraser and his Godmanchester opponent found
their way into the book.
In the fifth minute of time added on, Smith was tracking back and made a tackle in his own
box. The referee deemed it a foul and awarded a second penalty to Godmanchester. Munro
picked out the top corner to make it 2-1 as the half came to a belated close.
Sphinx eventually came to control much of the second half, but only after a slow start. A
change at half time brought substitute Lewis Noon into the midfield, with Tufan taking over at
right wing back, Loz Rawlings switching from right to left and Fraser withdrawn after his
yellow card.
Willis had a shot in the 47th minute that deflected up and down into Greygoose’s arms, and
Godmanchester replied with a shot that went high and wide in the 49th. A couple of minutes
later they were in a threatening position again but were unable to make anything of a
tempting pass across the face of goal.
The home side had the ball but were short of the moment of excellence required to make it
pay. Arguably, Godmanchester’s more sporadic attacking looked likelier to pay off during the
first half of the second half.
Another 15 minutes passed without a clear-cut opportunity for either side, leaving Sphinx
with the obvious but tricky objective of finding an equaliser in the last ten minutes.
Smith carved out the chance that ushered in a long spell of pressure on the Godmanchester
goal, producing a sensational piece of ball control out wide and the delivery to go with it. A
Harkin dummy got defender Louis Guest – by now playing at centre forward – in at the far
post but Greygoose was equal to it again.
Sphinx piled numbers forward and launched the ball into the box repeatedly as the minutes
ticked away, but the Guest attempt was the closest they came to an equaliser.
Substitute Jamal Adams zipped the ball across goal in stoppage time only for a desperate
defensive touch to take it unwittingly to safety, and all that remained was for a clear handball
in the seventh minute of added time to go unpunished.
A fourth penalty might have been the fitting way to end the match but Sphinx will need better
performances to win consistently in the Premier Division South. Losing poorly at the end of a
good run is a habit that needs breaking, and losing by one goal invites thoughts of what
might have been.
It’s become a familiar feeling in defeat this season. Sphinx have rarely been out of a match,
and even when they have seemed beaten they’ve found a way to end games no more than a
goal away from rescuing a point.
Those rousing battles are a world away from losses like this one. When presented with a
one-goal deficit and half a match to recover it, Sphinx really need to find a way.

Cross, Draper, Fraser (Noon), Tufan, Guest, Bryson, Rawlings, Willis (Adams), Smith,
Stewart (Stone), Harkin. Unused subs: Kavanagh, MJ

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