Sphinx were looking to continue their impressive home form against a Gornal side struggling at the wrong end of the table. Sphinx were without two of their key players, Ashley Cain and Luke Downes, who were a big loss due to the attacking threat they pose. A betting man would have Sphinx as strong favourites going into this match but as we all know, football is never as straightforward as that.
Sphinx started off well and within 8 minutes they were awarded a penalty for handball. Luke WILLIAMS stepped up to confidently place the spot kick into the bottom corner to put the Sphinx into an early lead and you could certainly sense the fans felt a comfortable victory was ahead of them. Gornal were not about to lie down quietly though and battled hard to get into the match and were getting some spells of pressure with Carl O’Neill producing at least one good save. Another corner was won by Gornal and this time it was helped into the net from close range in the 25th minute to peg the score back to 1-1. A disappointing goal to concede but a goal Gornal will feel they deserved. The game was a fairly even contest but just 8 minutes after the equaliser Sphinx were awarded a free kick on the edge of box. The keeper set up his wall but that was no problem to Luke WILLIAMS who stepped forward to curl a tremendous effort over the wall and into the back of the net to give Sphinx a 2-1 lead. That was the score-line that took us into half time. I was delighted with the lead mainly because I have watched Sphinx play far better than that and not have the score to reflect it. I was hoping for a better performance in the second half to go on and secure victory against a Gornal side who were battling for their lives at the bottom end of the table.
The second half was just five minutes old when Sphinx were awarded a corner. Ricky Fletcher came forward from centre back as usual and after a good delivery to the edge of the box, the ball found it’s way into the back of the net. Difficult to say who got the final touch but it was FLETCHER who was swarmed by his team mates in celebration so he was clearly the one who was to be credited with the goal. 3-1 to the Sphinx after 50 minutes and we were now hoping to see them cruise to a win. Once again Gornal had other ideas and were showing no signs of throwing in the towel just yet. Sphinx made three quick substitutions before the 60 minute mark with Dyke, Baxter and Wilks replacing Sullivan, Bilic and Downie. I felt Sphinx would need another goal to put the game to bed with Gornal still playing as if they felt they could still get something from the game. It was not a big surprise when Gornal pulled a goal back in the 76th minute to make it 3-2 and it was now most certainly “game on”. It was a tense final 15 minutes and that was summed up by an incident on the touchline. The linesman called over the referee and after a brief discussion the Red card was produced to send off a Gornal player who was warming up along the touchline. The player headed back to the dressing rooms passing the fans and was asked by a fan what the red card was for. He replied “I asked the linesman how long was left and he ignored me so I called him a deaf ****”. His straightforward and honest reply certainly amused the fans but now back to the football! Gornal were throwing a lot of balls into the Sphinx box and had now gone to three at the back in an attempt to get the equaliser but Sphinx held out in what was an extremely tense finish.
The three points went to Coventry Sphinx but Gornal go away knowing they pushed Sphinx all the way. I was delighted that Sphinx picked up the win in a far tougher game than I anticipated. I’ve watched Sphinx play better than they did today but what impressed me was the way they dug in and produced enough to get the victory. Their impressive home record has seen them suffer just two league defeats all season and if they can improve their away form then next season could well be a memorable one.
A tough “Man of the match” to call again with Ricky Fletcher getting on the score sheet and leading the defence with his usual quality and Carl O’neill having another good game in goal. My vote goes to Luke Williams who produced the one moment of real class with his free kick and combined with his calmly dispatched penalty produced 2 goals that won the match.