By Sharon Taylor
MFL Premier Division
Saturday 9th March - Sphinx Drive
RESULT: SPORTING KHALSA 1-1 COVENTRY SPHINX
39’ Charlie Faulkner (Coventry Sphinx)
64’ Shawn Boothe (Sporting Khalsa)
Sphinx travelled looking to get their form back to what we’re used to and a much improved performance got them the point they deserved at title chasing Sporting Khalsa. Sphinx opened the scoring just before half time thanks to Charlie Faulkner and Khalsa grabbed an equaliser just after the hour mark. A point would have been a disappointment for Khalsa’s pursuit of the leaders but Sphinx will be more than satisfied with picking up a point at a place that is always tough to emerge from with a result.
Lewis Hudson was serving his final game of a two match ban and with Blythe and Harkin missing out due to injury; it was a youthful looking substitute’s bench for Sphinx today. All of the Under 18s on the bench had earned their opportunities with consistently good performances at Youth level.
Sphinx created a couple of early opportunities with Faulkner and Woodward forcing decent saves from the Khalsa keeper. Khalsa were also getting the ball into good areas and we had a good game on our hands with two of the leading teams in the division looking to get the all important opening goal. It was Sphinx who opened the scoring with a fine goal from Charlie FAULKNER and he had Matt Gardner to thank for his part in the goal. Initially, Callum Woodward was quick to lift the ball forward and Faulkner reacted well to head the ball into the path of centre forward Matt Gardner. Gardner then proceeded into the right side of the penalty area where he picked out Faulkner’s run perfectly and Faulkner produced a first time finish to send Sphinx into the lead.
A good performance from Sphinx needed to be replicated in the second half against a Khalsa side who were guaranteed to push hard to get back in the game. A win was crucial for the hosts title aspirations and they wasted little time in delivering the ball into the box whenever the opportunity arose. Sphinx were standing strong at the back and they would have been disappointed to concede from close range when Boothe stabbed the ball beyond Cross in the Sphinx goal. Weaker teams would have folded at this point but Sphinx were unaffected and maintained their disciplined defensive play alongside their composed attacking play. Khalsa kept up the crossing into the box whenever they could but the Sphinx defence, particularly centre halves Guest and Kay were up to the task. Sphinx had a decent penalty shout waved away after what appeared an obvious handball in the box and O’Grady went close with a curling effort from the edge of the box. Khalsa had more of the ball in the Sphinx penalty area but Cross and his defence were on their game today and limited their opportunities well. A couple of knocks for Sphinx gave Alex Pearson the chance to make his Sphinx debut and once he settled into the game he looked comfortable with the step up to first team football. He was soon joined by Under 18s team mate Dan Kelly and he had a couple of glimpses of goal that showed us how close he must be to opening his first team scoring account. Khalsa cranked up the pressure late on but it would have been harsh on Sphinx not to take a point from this contest after a resilient performance. Sphinx executed their game plan well and the performance of the two Youth team lads was encouraging too. Overall, Sphinx were much more like the team we know and they’ll be pleased with a point at a place they often return from empty handed.
FULL TIME: SPORTING KHALSA 1-1 COVENTRY SPHINX
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: Liam Kay
Many good performances today with Matt Gardner producing an excellent performance as the focal point of the Sphinx attack. Charlie Faulkner was a persistent threat and worked hard with his defensive responsibilities too. Defensively, the team were organised and disciplined but the stand out players were centre backs Louis Guest and Liam Kay. Difficult to split them but Liam Kay takes the honour today.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: CROSS, LOWER ©, STRINGFELLOW, QUIRKE, KAY, GUEST, GRANDISON, WOODWARD (Pearson 70 mins), GARDNER, O’GRADY, FAULKNER (Kelly 76 mins). Unused Subs: Bull, Mack and Maspers
Coventry Sphinx are back in action on Saturday 16th March when they host South Normanton at Sphinx Drive.
Updated 20:56 - 10 Mar 2019 by Sharon Taylor