Coventry Sphinx 2 The Mikes 1
Improved performance but no points
A second game away to strong opposition in forty-eight hours, a second defeat; but a much better performance, once again reflected in the final score. Ben Usher-Shipway was back on the right wing: Steve Simpson started on the left, Luke Shearer and Ryan Andrews dropping to the bench.
There was no Shepshed mud to deal with this time, but a bobbly, grassy surface, which it took the Mikes a quarter of an hour to come to terms with in each half; and therein lay the difference between the teams. Sphinx’s Joel Grandison scooped one over from an easy position on four minutes, and three successive corners were defended by Joe Lyng heading the first over the bar, and Lewis Fenney saving the third. The Mikes, with Owen Parry showing mettle in midfield, eventually got going, Ben Usher-Shipway going close when trying to chip the keeper once the quarter hour had passed. Sphinx’s Ryan Harkin then had to exit proceedings with hamstring trouble, Blues Academy loanee Rhys Hilton replacing him. The first yellow card of the night followed soon afterwards, Jack Skinner, who battled effectively all night, cautioned for a rash slide into Charlie Faulkner. Usher-Shipway was at it again on 26 minutes, evoking a scrambling save from Sphinx’s keeper Jake Allingan. An even, end-to-end contest was now ensuing, Joe Lyng being summoned from distance to be spoken to by the referee, Jack Skinner being similarly addressed after clobbering Louis Guest - but not issued a second yellow, to Mikes supporters’ relief. After an absorbing forty-five minutes a first goal of the game was still awaited.
During the interval, Usher-Shipway, presumably still feeling the after effects of his tweaked hamstring that caused him to miss two matches, was replaced by Luke Shearer. Another fifteen minutes of Sphinx pressure opened the second period, Charlie Faulkner and Josh O’Grady firing wide from early chances. With 57 minutes on the clock, Joel Grandison broke the deadlock, his curving shot finding its way through a crowded box into the net. Boldmere responded positively, Sphinx’s Faulkner cautioned for holding on to Owen Parry as a Mikes attack built up. Joe Lyng soon followed him into the book after taking out an opponent. The game resumed its even tenor from the hour mark onwards, Harkin losing control of the ball as it ran away from him down the slight slope at the near end, a Boldmere chip pushed over the bar. On 69 minutes, a long diagonal pass to the left wing was driven into the penalty area. Joe Lyng headed goal wards, and before it had been cleared Jack Skinner followed up and pushed in the equaliser. Parity was held for only three minutes. A Faulkner centre flew across the Mikes rear line: former Boldmerian Matty Gardner tucked himself between two defenders, and his header restored the hosts’ lead. With eighteen minutes remaining, the Sphinx fell back periodically to defend their lead, while retrieving the ball suddenly became a long (and time consuming) business! The Mikes made a double substitution, battlers Parry and Skinner coming off for Cameron Gayle and Ryan Andrews, as they looked for new ways of penetrating the home lines. Their efficient off side trap came to their aid as, stretching forward, the defence was sometimes outnumbered by Sphinx attackers. With twelve minutes of ordinary time left, a Mikes free kick was hacked off the home line. This proved to be the closest Boldmere came to scoring, the closing stages being marked by Officials’ aberrations rather than players’ actions. A Grandison effort clipped the bar - and a corner was awarded. Right on ninety minutes, Joe Lyng put in a meaty challenge, and with the sands of time running out, you’d have thought another card would be extraneous. Our referee thought otherwise, and Lyng received his marching orders. Not surprisingly, this incensed the visiting management, and Kirk Smith was sent from the touch line.
Thus, ended a disappointing night from a points collecting view; but at least the overall display boded better things for the future.
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Cameron Day; Reece Mitchell; Owen Parry (Ryan Andrews 75); Harry Craven; Joe Lyng; Ben Usher-Shipway (Luke Shearer 46); Rico Taylor; Rikardo Reid; Jack Skinner (Cameron Gayle 75); Steve Simpson. Subs. not used: Brandon Williams; Harry Buttery.