COVENTRY Sphinx are through to the FA Cup Preliminary Round, after edging city rivals Coventry United in Wednesday night’s replay – courtesy of a Lawrence Rawlings strike on the half-hour mark.
The goal settled the tie between the two Midlands Football League Premier Division sides, following a 1-1 stalemate in Saturday’s original game at Sphinx Drive.
As a result of their victory, Sphinx now prepare for a visit to Derbyshire to take on Mickleover Sports, of the Northern Premier League Premier Division, on Friday August 23.
Lee Knibbs’ Sphinx side were the team in the ascendancy from the first whistle, and had an early chance from Rawlings denied by United goalkeeper James Wardle.
The hosts, playing at their temporary home at Communications Park in Daventry, were unable to get into the stride, as the visitors went close again through Callum Woodward’s mis-hit cross that threatened to sink into the back of the net.
From their very next chance, Sphinx got the go-ahead goal their play had merited when Rawlings rushed into the box to meet Liam Kay’s centre to slam the ball home.
Lewis Noon almost made it two just before the break when drilling a long-range effort goalwards, only to see the ball crash onto the frame of the bar and out.
With the hosts 45 minutes away from elimination at the first hurdle of the competition, the Red and Greens began to make inroads into finding a leveller after the referee sounded for the second half.
Jude O’Connor pulled off a number of stops to keep his clean sheet intact, but was tasked with trying to prevent former Sphinx striker Matt Gardner from levelling after a penalty kick was awarded.
Gardner stepped up, but he saw his effort kept out with a low save – as O’Connor’s heroics continued.
Ryan Palmer almost killed off the tie when bursting into the penalty area, though his finish was lacking the conviction required as the scoreline remained.
United’s frustrations boiled over and resulted in a late red card for Harry Sawyer, reducing them to ten men but failing to halt their will to launch balls into the box at every opportunity.
Sphinx’s backline held firm, with the visitors almost sealing their passage into the next round in style.
With the hosts’ goalkeeper mis-placed after being tackled, the ball fell to Ryan Palmer – who fired an effort just inside United’s half narrowly past the post.
The miss did not matter though, as Sphinx ousted their city rivals ahead of a trip to Sporting Khalsa, with United travelling to Stourport Swifts, both at 3pm tomorrow.