Despite leading 2-0 at the break and then 3-2, second-half specialists Coventry Sphinx snatch a late winner to keep the pressure up on leaders Rugby.
Saturday 26th November 2022
UHLSPORT UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
COGENHOE UNITED (2) 3 COVENTRY SPHINX (0) 4
Bates 38, 64
Shipman 61, 65
With Scott Carlin spending a few days up in Newcastle with his family (although there are rumours floating around that he had fled the county to get away from the autograph hunters following his starring role in the Northamptonshire Football Podcast this week), Andy Batty took sole charge of affairs at Compton Park as we welcomed high-flying Coventry Sphinx on a gloomy afternoon. With Luca Purse suspended and Paddy Casey away for the weekend, Kyle Ansell was handed his full debut where he joined Bruce Tsinosis and fit again Ben Gough in the back three. Pharrell Anderson returned to the starting line up to partner Jessi Obeng, but Luke McDonald cried off sick early in the afternoon so Will Bates was moved into an attacking midfield role while the returning Kodi Briggs, Jamie Snapes, Alex Parkes and Jamie Hall all had to make do with a place on the subs bench.
The wind was blowing straight down the pitch from the car park end and the Cooks had the first 45 minutes to try to take advantage of this and it was Anderson who had the first shot of the game, a volley from just outside the box that failed to concern Scott Martin who took it comfortably. Sphinx didn’t appear to be too concerned about kicking into the wind as they broke quickly at every opportunity and Dylan Parker drove a shot wide from 20-yards and then Callum Stewart was also off target with an effort from further out. Louis Guest headed wide from a Callum Stewart corner from the left via a deflection for another flag-kick on the opposite side which Stewart again took but Ansell headed it away. Stewart floated a cross in from the right that really caught the wind making it difficult for Ash Bodycote to hold, but the keeper recovered very quickly to dive on the loose ball.
The Cooks went close to opening the scoring when Josh Adams used the wind to whip in a corner from that eluded the outstretched arm of Martin and hit the crossbar a foot in from the far post, then Adams twisted and turned his way past three defenders before playing it to Bates on the left but he couldn’t get his cross into the danger area. The ball was cleared up field but Gough won it back just inside his own half and made ground down the left before firing in an angled cross, but Martin caught it cleanly before Obeng could get near to it. Louis Barrett battled well on the right and sent a hanging cross right over the 6-yard box, but it was too high for anyone to take advantage of, then Gough dinked the ball deep into the box to find the feet of Obeng, but he was quickly closed down and unable to pick out a teammate as he laid the ball back to the edge of the box.
A great ball from Woodward looked to have put Matty Shipman clear, but Tsinosis came across with a great covering header, then a lovely ball played in from the right very nearly picked out Jordan Hayward’s run into the far post and he just failed to make contact as he slid in. Obeng sent a volley on the turn wide from 20-yards, then another good cross from the right was met by a decent header by Shipman, but it was dealt with equally well by Bodycote.
The deadlock was broken on 38 minutes and it was a beauty that gave the Cooks the lead. Anderson dipped his shoulder to lose his man on the half-way line and burst through the left channel and when he found himself out-numbered on the edge of the box, he turned back and set-up Will Bates 20-yards out and he placed an unstoppable first-time drive that flew low and beyond the dive of Martin and just inside the keeper’s left-hand post. Superbly made by Anderson and brilliantly taken by Bates. Sphinx were still reeling from the goal when the Cooks doubled their lead on 41 minutes with anther great goal. Adams played a good ball over the top and into the box to Pharrell Anderson and the striker showed maturity beyond his young years as he calmly lobbed the ball over the keeper from 15-yards out. 2-0 to the Cooks with half-time rapidly approaching. Barrett turned inside but got under his shot from 25-yards out, sending the ball well over the bar, then Gough lifted a cross over the defence looking for Obeng, but Martin was off his line quickly to gather the ball first.
A superb half from the Cooks who had defended really well before those two excellent goals late in the half and it was second place Sphinx who were pleased to hear the half-time whistle today.
Half-time; Cooks 2 Sphinx 0
Joint managers Shawn Thomas and John Woodward were clearly not happy with the first 45 minutes as they made three changes before the restart with Max Johnson, Loz Rawlings and Jamie Draper all coming into the action as Callum Whiteside, Jack Downes and Jordan Hayward were all taken off.
Bodycote got down to claim a dangerous ball played in from the right by Rawlings, but the luck was against us on 54 minutes when the visitors pulled one back. Dylan Parker, a player who scored four against us whilst playing for Rugby a few seasons back, ran on to a good through ball and fired in a shot from deep inside of the box. It did look as if Bodycote had it covered as it left his boot under pressure from Ansell, but his shot hit Adams leg and changed direction to wrong foot the unfortunate keeper.
Bodycote saved his defence as they stopped waiting for an offside flag that didn’t come as the keeper saved Callum Stewart’s shot with his body, Stewart then turned the ball home following a free-kick but this one was ruled out by the assistant’s flag as he had strayed off-side this time. Bodycote became the first player to be shown the yellow card as referee Jon Livingston called him up for time-wasting after taking too long to take the free-kick. This does bring up that old consistency argument between different officials after seeing Martin Conway allowed to waste so much time without even being spoken too last Saturday and that isn’t any criticism on today’s official who had an excellent game.
The visitors drew level on 61 minutes after we were guilty of giving away possession cheaply whilst inside the Sphinx half. They broke really quickly down the left and when the ball was played into the box, Shipman had time and space to steer the ball home from close-range, for a classic breakaway goal. Woodward was shown the yellow card for a foul a minute later, then on 64 minutes the Cooks re-gained the lead with another cracking goal. Anderson had received the ball on the edge of the box, but with no passage through he laid it back to Will Bates some 25-yards out and despite having several sky and white shirts around him, he worked a yard of space for himself and unleashed a fantastic striker that flew high into the net with Martin only able to admire his strike.
Having retaken the lead, the Cooks needed to keep possession for a while and frustrate their opponents, but that didn’t exactly go to plan as Sphinx had made it 3-3 less that 120-seconds after Bates second goal of the game. A ball in from the right wasn’t defended well by the Cooks and Shipman was able to turn the ball in from deep inside the box. Luke Andrews made a great run before finding Anderson inside the box on the right and his fierce shot was turned behind by the keeper, but it wouldn’t have counted as the Cooks striker had been in an offside position.
Andy Batty made his first changes of the game with a double-sub as Adams and Gough both limped off to be replaced by Snapes (up front) and Parkes (at the back), with Obeng dropping into a wing-back role, then a minute later Sphinx brought on Leo Stone for Parker. Johnson played a free-kick into the box finding Stewart whose shot deflected wide for a corner, then Johnson pulled a shot wide from 20-yards as Sphinx continued to get forward with intent to keep their winning run going. Parkes cleared one off the line after a shot had got past Bodycote, then Anderson broke with pace down the right-flank, but his cross was cut-out before it reached the near post. Skipper Paddy Cichosz was booked for a foul after 81 minutes and he was joined by Stone for his reaction to that foul.
Sphinx went close with a deep corner that hit an attacker at the far post and bounced wide before the Cooks made what was to be their final change on 84 minutes as Hall replaced Anderson up top. Bodycote made a great point-blank save, but he could do nothing from the ensuing corner as we failed to get the ball away and Louis Guest lashed the ball high into the back of his net to give Sphinx the lead with three minutes left of the ninety.
Stone robbed Parkes on the half-way line and raced away only for his shot from the edge of the box to be blocked by Ansell and with the game three minutes into stoppage time Snapes was shown the yellow card for a foul just inside the Coventry team’s half. Obeng was unable to bring down a Barrett cross and although Snapes picked up play on the left, he couldn’t keep his cross in play and it was the visitors who ensured they protected their second spot in the table with another three points.
Sphinx are certainly a second half team at the moment given their last few results as they came from behind to win for the second game running with four goals after the break. Before the game I voiced an opinion that I would be very happy if we could get a point from this one and we very nearly did. It is always disappointing to lead 2-0 and then 3-2 yet not pick up anything from the game, but full credit must go to Coventry Sphinx who wanted the win so much and will I’m sure be relieved to have done so today. The Cooks gave everything and showed today that they aren’t too far off matching the teams at the top which is very encouraging. Any neutrals at Compton Park will have thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment on display from these two teams today as they both got forward whenever they could, a real fillip after last night’s negative England display.
Before the game I been talking about Batesy playing at the back and how much we miss him in midfield as an attacking threat and for once I wasn’t made to look stupid as he scored two beauties to earn him my man-of-the-match accolade today. It was a real team performance again though as he just pipped Pharrell Anderson and Kyle Ansell who I felt were both superb out there too. The only thing I felt was missing today from the Cooks was the fact that we didn’t keep the ball enough in the second half when we were in front and this put extra pressure on us at the back, but Sphinx are a very good team and they have and will continue to score goals whoever they are playing. Special mention to there supporters today as they brought a good following who were behind their team throughout, even when they were trailing in the game.
Cooks; 1. Ash Bodycote 2. Will Bates 3. Josh Adams (sub 10. Jamie Snapes 70) 4. Luke Andrews 5. Bruce Tsinosis 6. Ben Gough (sub 15. Alex Parkes 70) 7. Louie Barrett 8. Paddy Cichosz © 9. Pharrell Anderson (sub 20. Jamie Hall 85) 10. Kyle Ansell 11. Jessi Obeng. Subs not used; 12. Kodi Briggs 16. Callum Farmer.
Sphinx; 1. Scott Martin 2. Callum Whiteside (sub 16. Jamie Draper HT) 3. Callum Martin 4. Jack Downes (sub 12. Max Johnson HT) 5. Louis Guest 6. James Bryson 7. Jordan Hayward (sub 15. Loz Rawlings HT) 8. Callum Woodward 9. Matty Shipman 10. Callum Stweart 11. Dylan Parker (sub 14. Leo Stone 71). Sub not used; 17. Jack Kennedy.
Referee; Jon Livingston
Assts; Wyndham Trusler & Clinton Ormshaw