Sphinx stormed into a three goal lead and despite a nervous last few minutes after two late Shepshed goals they had done enough to claim victory.
Stuart Dutton made three changes to his side with Danny Harris coming in at left back, Jackson Downie returning to the midfield and striker Jamie Towers renewing his partnership with Mitch Thomson. Sphinx started on the front foot and inside the first five minutes they had won two corners and saw Towers shoot wide of the goal. Shepshed responded with a spell of their own with Dutton forced into early action to deal with a one on one chance. Dutton was soon in action again as he tipped over a header from a free kick. Shepshed maintained the pressure and a close range save from Dutton kept them out. It was an all action opening ten minutes and in the 12th minute Sphinx got the opening goal with a classy finish from TOWERS. Scott Lower had won the ball with a firm tackle high up the pitch and Thomson took it on from there to fire in a great cross for Towers to thump in emphatically. Sphinx had a glorious chance to double their lead on twenty minutes after Downie played Thomson clean through only for Thommo to steer his shot wide of the post with just the keeper to beat. Sphinx then suffered a blow as right back Scott Lower was forced off with injury to be replaced by Reece Blackmore. Sphinx did double their lead in the 35th minute with some superb wing play from Towers getting him to the by-line where he played a ball right across the face of goal for JOHNSTON to slide in at close range. That was Johnston’s first goal for Coventry Sphinx and he clearly enjoyed that! Sphinx had taken their chances well with two well worked goals and that was how it stayed as we went into the half time break.
HALF TIME: SHEPSHED DYNAMO 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 2
A reaction was expected from the hosts but it was Sphinx who scored next in the 51st minute. A good exchange of quick passing on the left ended with a lovely cross-field ball from Towers to Blackmore. An early cross was then swung in and THOMSON side-footed home a clinical finish to put the visitors 3-0 up. Downie was then replaced on 53 mins by Ryan Smith with Downie looking tired after his first start for a while. The 64th minute provided a glimmer of hope for Shepshed after they were awarded a penalty. Dutton dived the right way but there was no need as the effort was smashed well wide of the post. A let off for Sphinx and another problem cropped up with substitute Ryan Smith picking up an injury which meant he had played just 18 minutes before leaving the field of play again. Awful bad luck for the young man and hopefully he will be back in action soon. There were just fifteen minutes to go now and a fierce volley from Towers was finger tipped past the post to prevent Sphinx extending their 3 goal lead. Shepshed then broke away but could only draw a straightforward save from Dutton. Shepshed were starting to build up some pressure and they got a goal back on 79 minutes after Sphinx didn’t take their chance to clear their lines. Reeve was the man who pounced to get what appeared to be a consolation goal but Shepshed got a lift from this and on 85 minutes they got another back with Read poking in from close range. Again Sphinx had the chance to clear and their determination not to launch it clear was punished. This set up a nervous end to the game with Sphinx being forced to defend resolutely when ten minutes before, the game had looked won. It was a test of character that they stood up to and they secured the three points they had deserved. Shepshed is always a tough place to go and Sphinx will be delighted to emerge with a win and a decent performance to match.
FULL TIME: SHEPSHED DYNAMO 2 COVENTRY SPHINX 3
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: SCOTT DUTTON
The squad has settled down now and that is starting to show. Luke Downes is back in the side and is looking like he is enjoying his football again. There is a quality player in there and I’m sure we’ll be seeing that on a regular basis very soon. Liam Cairns has established himself in the Sphinx midfield after stepping up a level in the summer and I’ve been delighted with his progress so far. Jackson Downie is a talented lad and performed well in midfield. Chris Johnston is as tough as they come and it was great to see him pop up with a goal today too. Thomson and Towers are forming an understanding up front and both played well today but my Man of the Match is Scott Dutton. Scott was battered from pillar to post but the young man stood up to the physical stuff well. He produced some key saves and is improving with every game.