Leamington put away by Coventry Sphinx
courtesy of the Coventry Evening Telegraph (online edition)
COVENTRY SPHINX earned themselves a massive confidence boost last night when they toppled Leamington 1-0 – the fourth and, by some distance, most prestigious victory of their pre-season campaign.
Brakes predictably looked the sharper side in the early exchanges and Sphinx keeper Scott Furlong was tested by Luke Corbett and Leon Broadhurst.
But home midfielder Callum Woodward produced the key contribution to his man-of-the-match performance in the 22nd minute when, having seen his initial effort blocked, he calmly collected the rebound to steer his shot past Chris Kiely.
Furlong had to save well when Mark Bellingham broke clear. But although the Southern League men created the clearer opportunities in the second period, Bellingham twice going close while Marcus Jackson had a late effort scrambled away, the Sphinx defence stood firm.
courtesy of the Paul Edwards at www.leamingtonfc.co.uk
Brakes produced a patchy performance
against their Midland Alliance
rivals at Sphinx Drive, but with a
number of players yet to feature,
there was not too much for Jason
Cadden and his staff to be concerned
about. Two pre season games, two
defeats and no goals scored may not
look good on paper, but it is
gaining fitness and momentum that is
more important for the players, at
this early stage. Coventry Sphinx
are already into their sixth week
back in training, and after the
opening period, looked sharper than
Brakes for long spells in the game,
which was to be expected. They have
won all of their matches so far, and
must be pleased with how their
preparations for the new campaign
Of the summer recruits, Leon Broadhurst was the only player on show in this game, and he put in another hard working display, certainly enough to show that he will be an asset in the coming months. Ryan Parisi has allegedly been turning out elsewhere in warm up matches, but he started here, and put in a good display.
Luke Corbett saw an early shot cleared away from goal, and had the first shot on target in the game, but Scott Furlong had his near post covered, and made a comfortable save. The home side went in front in their first threatening attack, on 22 minutes. The ball was half cleared from inside the area, the player furthest forward for Sphinx looked to have a clear shot at goal, but the ball rebounded to Callum Woodward, who struck a low shot that may have taken a deflection on the way through, but it beat Chris Kiely and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
There had been signs of the two division gap between the sides in the early stages of the game, but this now vanished, as Sphinx set about their opponents, giving them little time to settle on the ball. Sphinx Drive has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for Brakes in the past, something which was to continue in this game.
Chris Kiely saved another low shot at goal, before Leon Broadhurst tried his luck from long range, but his shot was straight at Furlong. Brakes carved out probably their best chance of the half when Guy Sanders cut out a pass on the edge of the box. His clearance was nodded on by Luke Corbett for Mark Bellingham, who sprinted after the ball, but with a defender in close pursuit, opted to try and beat Furlong by placing his shot around him from distance, but although the keeper had strayed from his line, he managed to parry the ball behind for a corner. Bellingham later smashed a free kick high over the crossbar from a good position, but he certainly couldn't blame the playing surface, which looked superb, despite the rainfall throughout the day.
Brakes started the second half with intent, and Leon Broadhurst played a ball over the top for Chris Murphy, but Scott Furlong came out well to clear the danger. Kyle Rhodes struck an excellent shot from distance that just cleared Chris Kiely's crossbar, before Chris Murphy met an excellent cross from the left at the back post, but directed his header wide when perhaps he should have found the net.
Jerome Murdock looked lively throughout for Coventry Sphinx, and a mazy run that took him past two Brakes defenders and Chris Kiely ended with him shooting into the side netting. This was a good spell for the home side, and they looked odds on to double their lead when, with the Brakes defence in disarray, a shot was blocked by a Sphinx player on its way towards goal. A raft of substitutions followed, and Brakes composed themselves a little. Josh Blake headed over from a corner, and from another dead ball on the right, Reis Ashraf saw a close range shot blocked, Marcus Jackson lashing the rebound high over the bar. A free kick from a similar area evaded a packed penalty box in the closing minutes, and Sphinx so nearly capped their success with a stunning goal. Iyseden Christie, the former Coventry City striker who played in the Blue Square Premier for Stevenage, Kettering and Torquay United last season, and is turning out for Sphinx while looking for a new club, tried to find his way through on the edge of the Leamington area, before turning and lifting a pass into the path of Tom Haywood, who cracked in a stunning first time volley that only just cleared the bar. Brakes could not really have complained, had it gone in, but this was another useful workout for them.