Coventry's Premier Non-League Football Club


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24th October 2009

Sphinx surrender lead late at Biddulph.....

by Randy Forder.


Biddulph Victoria  3 v 3  Coventry Sphinx


Coventry Sphinx made the long journey up the M6 to tackle Biddulph and though they stopped the rut of four away league defeats and claimed a point Manager Danny McSheffrey can be far from happy with the performance and with Barwell next on the agenda a vast improvement will be required.

The game was very much overshadowed for both sides by a somewhat ‘unique’ performance from the Referee who will have as much to ponder as the players and managers in the coming days.

 As for the game itself Sphinx started very brightly and could have been one up as early as the 5th minute when Manak was put through by Rhodes only to see his lob parried to safety by the keeper. Phillips was next to go close with a header straight at the ‘keeper but he was soon on the scoresheet when Ruff sent the hardworking Donaldson through who took the ball round the ‘keeper and squared it for the oncoming Phillips to smash home. This should have given Sphinx the impetus to get a grip on the game but for some reason they took their foot off the gas and allowed Biddulph to get back into the game.

With Biddulph wingers Mould and Hamilton causing problems for the Sphinx defence it was not long before Biddulph were on level terms on 22 minutes when Mould crossed for Baker to nod in from 6 yards out. Both teams were finding it hard to string two passes together and though Phillips hit the bar with a header from a Haltom cross the game was becoming very dire and there was a collective sigh of relief when the Referee blew for half time.

Sphinx came out with a renewed vigour and took the game to Biddulph and though there passing game improved the failure to hit the right ball to punish Biddulph was their major downfall. Manak was at least getting a foot on the ball and it was his pass that dissected the Biddulph defence for Donaldson to run onto and place a great low shot past the oncoming ‘keeper to put Sphinx 2-1 up on 68 minutes. For the 2nd time in the game Sphinx took their foot off the pedal and allowed Biddulph back into the game, they can count themselves lucky not to have a penalty awarded when Kay clearly  upended Mould in the box but the Referee turned down Biddulph’s claims when all around were expecting him to point to the spot. But the impressive Mould soon had Biddulph back on level terms when he brushed aside a Muldoon challenge and ghosted past Wilson-King to fire in an unstoppable shot from 25 yards.

Donaldson was soon in the action again. After a heavy tackle from behind which the Referee failed to acknowledge Donaldson tracked back and committed a far less serious foul to gain a booking. At this point the ball was kicked away by a Sphinx player in an unnecessary show of dissent only for the Referee to try and caution firstly one Biddulph player then when he realised that he had got it wrong he then tried to caution another Biddulph player before consulting his assistant who soon put him right. Despite having the offender’s identity resolved he then decided against cautioning the Sphinx player.

The game was becoming farcical, at least that was the consensus of both sets of supporters, with the Referee stopping and starting the game and throwing yellow cards around like the proverbial confetti. Sphinx Manager McSheffrey was the next to feel the Referee's wrath when he asked him to leave the technical area because he was and quote "sick of hearing his voice".

Soon after Sphinx went ahead for the third time when Donaldson latched onto a Phillips pass and placed the ball past the ‘keeper into the bottom right hand corner. Sphinx settled in to a rhythm and were for the first time in the game looking totally in control defensively when Sphinx debutant Jones tugged on Marrow’s shirt seemingly just outside the box the Referee pointed to the spot. It may have been harsh butit was fine line and without the foul there would have been no whistle and that is really the lesson to take from that particular incident. Marrow stepped up to take the kick and though O'Neill got down well he could not stop the ball from squirming underneath his body.

There was still time for an encore from the official. Donaldson was sent clear by Fisher and his run took him past the oncoming defence and as he was about to get a shot off he was clipped on the heel and sent sprawling. It should, just like the incident at the start of the half for Biddulph, have been a spot kick but the Referee pointed for a goal kick and booked Donaldson for diving. The yellow was flourished but the red that should have followed in short order given Donaldson’s booking earlier was not produce and the Sphinx player was waved away to continue the game.

A very strange end to a very poor display from Sphinx, in a game that had three clear penalties, 2-1 in favour of the home team, but only one being awarded, a club official sent to the stands for no particular reason at all, and more yellow cards than anybody could keep count off, including the referee. McSheffrey and his Management team will have to get their heads together to raise the Sphinx game if they are to get anything out of Tuesday’s game with Barwell.


Sphinx: C. O'Neill, J. Rikkus, D. Doherty, K. Rhodes, A. Wilson-King, L. Kay, R. Manak, J. Holton, K. Phillips, A. Donaldson, J. Ruff. subs: T. Haywood, A. Fisher, T. Muldoon, N. Martin, C. Daffern.


Biddulph Victoria: W. Smith, J. Price, M. Pearson, D. Smith, S. Burge, D. Chadwick, C. Hamilton, C. Smith, J. Marlow, C. Baker, S. Mould. subs: A. Baggaley, D. Massey, R. Tite, L. Skellern, S. Heeps.

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