Sphinx came into the game as most people’s underdogs but today’s result demonstrated they could well be a force to be reckoned with this season. There was no doubt they had a touch of luck but there was also no doubt they had put in the kind of shift that gets you those breaks. A classy goal from Sterling and a breakaway goal from Harkin sealed the points on a warm summers day at Sphinx Drive and that brought to an end an unbeaten league run for Bromsgrove that had stretched for 40 games back to April 2016.
Bromsgrove brought a good following to Coventry and there was a good atmosphere around the ground ahead of kick off. Stuart Dutton made three changes to his team today after last weekends win at Rocester. They were all enforced with Luke Downes and Matty Burt both serving suspensions for their Red Cards against Shepshed the previous week and Liam Cairns unavailable. Sphinx have good depth in their squad and they were replaced by Jean Dakouri, Louis Guest and Rhys Deehan.
Sphinx were looking to be positive from the off and Sterling had an effort cleared off the line as early as the 3rd minute. Sterling had a glimpse of goal again soon after with his shot going wide after being set up by Alex Tomkinson. Sphinx were having the better of the first half but it was clear they were up against a very good side. The Sphinx defence had to stay fully focused and Scott Dutton gave them a confident presence in goal. Five minutes before half time Sphinx crafted a goal of real quality after working the ball from the half way line to the back of the Bromsgrove net. The move began with Deehan turning his man smartly near the half way line before feeding Harkin who had dropped deep to collect the ball. Harkin headed forward on the left and his close control and pace took him into a dangerous area. Harkin unselfishly picked out STERLING in the middle of the box who took a touch to control it and then fired it into the bottom corner. A response was expected from the visitors but 2 minutes into added time Bromsgrove were reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of their goalkeeper. Harkin was clean through on goal and Bromsgrove keeper Reece Francis raced out of his area to intervene but Harkin maintained his run and Francis now had little choice but to attempt a tackle on the striker. The referee deemed the tackle to be a foul and once he had blown for that he had little choice but to send off Francis. Outfield player Aaron Roberts now had to take the gloves and the defensive wall kept out the free kick to keep the score at 1-0 going into the break.
HALF TIME: COVENTRY SPHINX 1 BROMSGROVE SPORTING 0
Harkin was an immediate threat at the beginning of the second half with his hopeful shot almost finding it’s way over the line after a fumble by the stand in keeper. Sphinx had a one man advantage but you don’t go on such an unbeaten run as Bromsgrove if you’re not a very good side and they were still well in this game. Bromsgrove went close with a dipping shot and Sphinx replied with a Guest header wide of goal. The game was opening up as Bromsgrove went for it and then Sphinx were forced into a substitution with the injured Callum Woodward being replaced by the returning Jamie Towers. Dutton kept out a good Bromsgrove effort then Sphinx thumped the bar from a Harkin shot as they went close to putting the game to bed. Bromsgrove were now steadily upping the pressure as we went into the final stages of the game but Scott Dutton remained unbeaten. Wayward shooting meant he wasn’t overworked but what he did have to do he did well. With just four minutes to play Bromsgrove were gifted a penalty after a driven cross hit a Sphinx hand from close range and the referee wasted little time in pointing to the spot. Scott Dutton has a good record against penalties but he didn’t need to save this one as a poor effort from Ward went well wide of the post. Dutton was going the right way and there looked every chance he would have kept it out anyway. A glorious chance for Bromsgrove was squandered and Sphinx compounded that with a second goal in injury time. Ryan HARKIN was the man to score it after he rounded the keeper and calmly passed it into a vacant goal. There was still time for the visitors to hit the post but it was game over and Sphinx took a hard earned three points.
Sphinx had worked hard to overcome a good Bromsgrove team and got that little bit of luck their work had deserved. The clean sheet was a good indication of their defensive solidity this season and they always carry a threat up front. They are back in action on Bank Holiday Monday when they travel to Loughborough University hoping to extend their unbeaten away record so far this season.
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: CHRIS STERLING
No weak links in this Sphinx side today. They defended with a rugged determination, were organised, hard working and showed their capability in front of goal. Excellent effort all round but I’m going for striker Chris Sterling for my Man of the Match. Sterling scored the all important first goal, looked after the ball well and did his defensive work when needed.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, LOWER, STRINGFELLOW, DAKOURI, QUIRKE, GUEST, TOMKINSON, WOODWARD (Towers 66 mins), STERLING (Ellis 77 mins), HARKIN, DEEHAN (McGarrity 81 mins). Unused subs: Gaggini, Mullarkey