COVENTRY Sphinx’s under-16s side returned from the Birmingham FA headquarters on Saturday with their name etched on the Birmingham FA County Cup, after beating AFC Solihull in a 6-4 thriller.
Ideal weather conditions and a pristine playing surface set up for exciting, attacking football from both sides, in front of a bumper crowd of parents, supporters and Sphinx managers from the under-13s, under-14s and under-18s sides.
Sphinx went behind inside the opening five minutes of the game, but rushed briskly back onto level terms in the 12th minute, thanks to a strike from midfielder Zach Tellyn.
But they soon found themselves behind for a second time just three minutes later, foreshadowing the kind of afternoon that was in store for both sides – a nightmare for both defences, but a tantalising spectacle for the neutral.
Sphinx pulled themselves onto level terms in the 19th minute, when Sean Burke fired into the bottom corner of the net, before going in front for the first time in the contest, courtesy of centre-back Noah Rose’s bullet header.
It gave them a lead at the break, one that was extended seven minutes into the second-half, when Mo Billy finally put his name on the scoresheet with a headed finish – a just reward for the endeavour that he displayed throughout the game.
His afternoon got even better when he pulled off an audacious chip from long range that caught out the stranded keeper, essentially making sure that the cup would be held aloft by Sphinx at the full-time whistle.
But with a number of substitutions made to disrupt the balance and with Coventry taking their foot off the gas, Solihull pulled a goal back with ten minutes to play.
The game was then brought back into contention when another Solihull goal reduced the deficit to just one in the closing minutes – cue David Obeng’s late strike to kill off any hopes of a Solihull fightback, sealing a 6-4 win and silverware at the final whistle.
It was the perfect occasion and match in which to wrap up Sphinx under-16s season, and a memorable way for Martin Ascroft to call time on his stint as junior manager at Coventry Sphinx.