We were back in action at Sphinx on Saturday and we were expecting an entirely different style of game than the previous one against Highgate. Quorn have developed a reputation of playing a passing style of football and sit comfortably in mid table ahead of their visit to Coventry. Only two changes to the Sphinx side today with teenager Jordan Fesel replacing the injured Rhys Deehan at left back and experienced forward Jamie Towers returning to take the place of Karabo Motshweni on the right. However, the stand out team news of the day was the return of Kieran McCalla to the subs bench after over two months out with injury. Sphinx have suffered quite badly with injuries in defence so his return is very welcome.
Sphinx came flying out of the blocks and within three minutes they were threatening the Quorn goal. Some great play down the right from Lower led to Woodward crossing for Towers who hit a snap shot just wide of the post. A minute later it was Downes serving up a chance for Towers but he fired over the bar this time. Sphinx were all over the visitors and playing some tremendous attacking football but Quorn stood strong and almost pinched the lead after Sphinx were dispossessed on the edge of their own box. It was only a great save from Dutton that kept Quorn out on that occasion. Sphinx set about looking for the first goal and a classy lofted ball over the top from Downes sent Harkin away down the right. Harkin’s cross was met at the far post by left back Fesel but his firm header was saved by Smith in the Quorn goal. The goal that had been coming duly arrived after 15 minutes and while it was well deserved for Sphinx it was an incredibly unfortunate goal for Quorn to concede. Harkin again caused problems down the right with his pace and his low cross was turned into his own net by a stretching Quorn defender. Luke Downes was poised to finish off the cross so the defender had no choice but to intervene. The flow of the match continued with Sphinx pressing for a second and Harkin was next to test the keeper after being set up by Towers. Then Quorn suddenly got a lifeline with Sphinx conceding a penalty on 25 minutes. Nathan Dale promptly tucked it away to equalise and Sphinx must have been wondering how their opening spell hadn’t resulted in the lead in this game so far. They weren’t left wondering for long as Towers restored their lead within two minutes of conceding the equaliser. It was all started deep in midfield by Liam Cairns who pinched the ball and instantly carried it forward before releasing Harkin on the way to goal. Harkin cut inside and hit a strong drive that the keeper could only parry into the path of TOWERS who drove it into the back of the net. Sphinx were well worth that lead but they didn’t go on to extend their lead when perhaps they should have. In fact the only significant effort after the second goal to half time was a high shot from Towers. Quorn were encouraged by this and produced an equaliser in first half injury time. It was a straightforward goal with a right wing cross headed in low at the far post by Nathan Dale and Quorn went into the break level after looking in danger of being blown away at one stage.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 QUORN 2
If Sphinx could maintain the performance level they achieved in the first half then they would have an excellent chance of taking the points but unfortunately they couldn’t. The second half started fairly even and the high tempo was still there. Either side could win this now and it just shows how quickly games can change. Regardless of the dominance of the other side, if you can stay in the game as Quorn did then things can turn around and they certainly did in this half. Sphinx made an early sub with Motshweni replacing Downes in midfield. I felt Downes had done well as he looks to get back up to match fitness. Quorn were performing better this half and their right winger Rob Mulonga was proving particularly troublesome to Sphinx. In the 74th minute Quorn went in front for the first time with a close range finish after a left wing cross. It was that man Nathan Dale who scored again to claim his hat-trick and Quorn went on to see the game out without being seriously threatened by Sphinx. A late chance for Sphinx was headed over by substitute Pidgeon and that was the closest they got to getting a point from a game they looked likely to win in the early stages.
FULL TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 2 QUORN 3
MAN OF THE MATCH: RYAN HARKIN
A little mention for Luke Downes who has yet to get up to full fitness. I’ve been watching Luke Downes play for Sphinx for a number of years and I know what a good player he is. Like with most players, fitness is key and once he’s back in shape I’m totally confident we’ll see the Luke Downes we know. You don’t suddenly become a bad player and his creativity and goal scoring will be back soon, I’m convinced of that. Only one candidate for me with this match and that’s Ryan Harkin. He played a big part in both goals and he showed there is more to his game than scoring.