Coventry Sphinx extended their unbeaten run to five games at Butlin Road on Tuesday night with a hard earned point against Rugby Town. The defence were superb again but Sphinx had opportunities to win it although ultimately it would have been hard on either team to have suffered defeat.
Coventry Sphinx were forced into a number of changes with Lower, Woodward and Sterling all missing from the starting line up due to injury. There was good news though with Luke Downes and Matty Burt returning from suspension and taking places on the bench. There was also a new signing with striker Simeon Townsend joining the club from Sporting Khalsa and getting a start in the Sphinx attack. Another recent new signing, Pierre Moudime, came into the Sphinx team at right back and was joined in the side by Jamie Towers to complete the three changes to the team that had beaten Sporting Khalsa at the weekend.
Torrential rain before kick off and during the first half made for tricky conditions but the Butlin Rd pitch coped well enough with the deluge. Rugby started the strongest and within two minutes the home side thought they had scored but an offside flag saved the day for Sphinx. Sphinx were struggling to get out of their own half early on although Scott Dutton was mainly untroubled in the Sphinx goal. The game continued in a similar vein during the first half but neither keeper had been called into serious action despite Rugby having the territorial advantage. Sphinx were easing themselves into the contest but it was interrupted just before half time with a serious looking injury to Rugby defender Mason Rowley. The Rugby medical team looked after him well and we wish him a full recovery from his leg injury. After the five minutes stoppage we got back underway and Sphinx had their best chance of the half with a firm Louis Guest header cleared off the line by an alert defender. Sphinx would have been happy to go into the interval level but they would need to improve their attacking play to back up their excellent defensive work in the second half.
HALF TIME: RUGBY TOWN 0 COVENTRY SPHINX 0
Sphinx goalkeeper Scott Dutton was soon in action with a fine save with his legs keeping out Rugby but Sphinx were already showing more attacking threat in this half. Harkin was the first to have a go at goal but his effort was too high to trouble the Rugby keeper. Towers was getting more involved down the right and a trademark run and cross from him ended with a clever Townsend flick hitting the top the post. Tomkinson’s follow up shot was just wide of the goal but that was a lot better from Sphinx. Harkin had another crack at goal before Moudime drove forward from right back to unleash a well hit drive that the keeper did well to put out for a corner. Rugby were a threat themselves as the game opened up but a combination of the Sphinx defence and failing to finish chances meant we were still without a goal midway through the half. Sphinx were growing in confidence and Harkin’s run down the left set up McGarrity for an attempt on goal. Luke Downes joined the contest to and his quality on the ball was evident immediately. Demetri Brown also came on to add more pace to the Sphinx frontline as they continued to look for the goal that could win the game. Either side had enough about them to win this game and one goal looked likely to settle the contest. We entered the last ten minutes and Downes jinked his way to the edge of the box before being crudely brought down. Harkin stepped up to take the free kick which forced a good save from the home keeper and the play then switched to the other end with Rugby taking their turn to exert some pressure. Scott Dutton bravely denied Rugby after a free kick was delivered into the box and the referee called the foul on the Sphinx keeper to ease the brief spell of pressure as we entered added time. Sphinx had a late opportunity themselves with a Harkin shot taking a slight deflection and going narrowly wide but despite the efforts of the players, we ended the night as we started it.. 0-0.
A fair result in the end with Rugby having the better of the first half and Sphinx greatly improved as an attacking threat in the second half. Coventry Sphinx are now unbeaten in five games and that little run has seen them concede just two goals and record three clean sheets. Next up is the FA Vase with a visit to Leicestershire on Saturday to take on MFL Division 1 club Heather St Johns.
COVENTRY SPHINX MAN OF THE MATCH: MICHAEL QUIRKE
A night for defences to come out on top but some encouraging performances around the pitch too. Simeon Townsend made his debut and settled into the team well. An energetic and strong performance from him and he will certainly add something to the Sphinx attacking options. The team as a whole are prepared to battle for each other and there can be no questioning of their attitude. The strength of Jean Dakouri stood out again but his quality on the ball shouldn’t be underestimated either. Pierre Moudime settled in well on his debut and became more of an attacking threat as the game went on. Stringfellow was excellent in defence again with his leadership and organisational skills. Louis Guest continued his good form and went close to scoring again but today I’m going to single out his centre back partner Michael Quirke. He has made the step up to Premier Division football and has been consistently excellent in the Sphinx defence.
COVENTRY SPHINX TEAM: DUTTON, MOUDIME, STRINGFELLOW, DAKOURI, QUIRKE, GUEST, TOWERS (Brown 76 mins), TOMKINSON (Downes 69 mins), TOWNSEND, HARKIN, McGARRITY. Unused subs: Hill, Burt, Lower.