Sphinx (H) 18/19
Coventry United FC v Coventry Sphinx FC
Midland Football League Premier Division
Date: Wednesday 26thDecember 2018
Venue: Butts Park Arena
Well hello one and all. After that well earned and hard fought 0-0 draw against league leaders Ilkeston Town on Saturday, United today have another mouth-watering encounter lined up on this Boxing Day against our arch rivals Coventry Sphinx.
This fixture is always a well anticipated occasion and with Sphinx currently having a fantastic season and the leagues in form team, this will I’m sure be an even tougher game than usual. Sphinx are currently sitting in 4thposition only seven points behind the leaders and after giving the leaders a good drubbing last week will be confident in being able to close that gap even further.
United on the other hand are I would say a team in current transition after a few departures followed by a few new arrivals. United have been playing really well of late dominating games but it would be fair to say that on some occasions they have failed to punish teams while on top.
That said they are looking a solid unit and are working hard for each other so once the new additions have settled in I’m sure United will start to see the rewards for their dogged efforts.
United manager Terry Anderson should have a near full squad to choose from as he plots to topple our near neighbours in what should be another cracking game between the two passionate sides with local bragging rights as well as the 3pts all to play for.
The referee gets the game under way and United win an early Kevin Thornton free kick in the 4thminute that is cleared out for a corner but United fail to take advantage of the early pressure.
Sphinx carve out their first chance of the game in the 7thminute from a free kick wide on the right that’s taken by the No11 Charlie Faulkner. His cross sees the loose ball fall to the Sphinx No7 Leigh Phillips blazing his shot high over the bar.
Both teams as per normal when they play each other seem to just cancel each other out as both teams give the ball away with relative ease as they try to negotiate the bobbly pitch. The condition of the pitch is hampering the players to control the run of the ball.
Sphinx break forward with No9 Ryan Harkin in the 19thminute when he drives in from wide and skips past two markers before pulling his shot wide of the target.
United are seeing a lot of the ball but are finding it hard to break down a stern Sphinx defence as the United play seems to be breaking down when they get to the last third. United’s next chance comes in the 33rdminute when an Arum Soleman corner finds Harrison sawyer but his shot goes well wide of the target from 25yrds out. United are finishing the half strongly and are starting to put some concerted pressure on the Sphinx defence. They press forward in the 39thminute when Joe Cairns crosses the ball into the area and Luke Downes sees his header saved by the Sphinx keeper Tom cross. The final chance of the half falls to United when Arum Soleman’s free kick is blazed high over the bar in the 44thminute. Soon after the referee blows up for half time.
UNITED 0 SHINX 0
The second half gets under way with neither side making any changes during the break. United dominated the first half but its Sphinx who have come out for the second half with the bit between their teeth. They force a couple of early corners that culminate in the Sphinx No7 Leigh Phillips shooting just wide of the post after pouncing on a loose ball in the 47thminute.
Sphinx continue to force the issue and force another couple of corners that lead to the latter one making the break through. The corner is taken by the No11 Charlie Faulkner and his fierce cross is met by the head of the No10 Matthew Gardner and he powers a header into the back of the net leaving United’s keeper Brendan Bunn with no chance to open the scoring in the 53rdminute.
UNITED 0 SPHINX 1
That was a right kick in the teeth after United’s dominance in the first half but with their first effort on target United find themselves a goal down.
United respond by making a change when they take off Kai Williams and send on debutant Antonio Alcaraz-Zamora in the 59thminute. Then Sphinx follow suit shortly after when they take off No9 Ryan Harkin and send on No12 Luke Barlone in the 66thminute. With the game currently a little scrappy after the changes, it’s not long before both teams make further changes when United take off full back Harrison Sawyer and send on another debutant in Andre Yerou and Sphinx taking off the No11 Charlie Faulkner and send on the No14 Jackson Downie in the 70thminute.
United finally get to see some possession of their own in this second half and create a good chance in the 73rdminute when a loose ball from a Luke Downes free kick finds Jamal Clarke at the back post but with not much time or space he sends his shot into the side netting.
Soon after that disaster strikes for United when after a melee inside the Sphinx area and the referee consulting his linesman, he then shows United’s Kevin Thornton a straight red card and United are now down to ten men for the last 13 minutes.
Both teams decide to make further changes in the 80thminute with United taking off Joe cairns and sending on Dominik Alleyne and Sphinx take off the No10 Matthew Gardner and send on the No15 Scott Lower.
The game is now into the last 10 minutes and in the 84thminute the Sphinx keeper Tom Cross earns himself a booking for time wasting after kicking the ball away. With the clock ticking away Sphinx are able to see out the game comfortably as soon after the referee blows up for full time and the Sphinx claiming the points along with the bragging rights again.
UNITED 0 SPHINX 1
In summing up this game I would have to say it’s a FAMILIAR STORY. Many times this season United have dominated good periods of play but have failed to punish teams in the process. Then when the opposition get their chance it invariably is taken and it’s then United who are indeed punished.
Today’s game has been no different as United dominated proceedings in the first half but just could not break down a tough well drilled sphinx defence. The pitch as for both teams is very bobbly and difficult to play decent football on but both teams cannot be faulted for trying to at least. They go into the break with the score at 0-0. The second half see’s the Sphinx come out with some added fire in their bellies as they put United under some early pressure that escalates into second half dominance. They get the breakthrough early in the half with a well taken header and things then get worse for United when Kevin Thornton is sent off for his part in a melee.
Sphinx are then just happy to let United come onto them as they sit on their slender lead and comfortably see out the game to claim the 3pts and bragging rights.
Players worthy of a mention would have to be the Sphinx No8 Liam Cairns. Cairns was a right thorn in United’s side all afternoon getting his foot or body in the way to thwart United in a tough midfield battle much to the annoyance of many United fans!!!!!!!
For United, well they played quite well in the first half but sadly failed to turn up in the second. Jamal Clarke and Kyle Barnett continue to play well together and looked solid throughout this game. Ben Vallance also did well against a tricky customer in Charlie Faulkner and also ventured forward when allowed. Today’s man of the match award though goes to Gift Mussa. Gift put in another grafting shift covering every inch of the pitch in a gruelling midfield battle so well played Gift Mussa.
Match stats United Sphinx
On target (1) (1)
Off target (3) (5)
Corners (5) (4)
Free kicks (19) (13)
Yellow cards (0) (1)
Red cards (1) (0)
Offside (3) (2)