Coventry Spartans 2 Perrywood 1

Saturday 7th January 2012
Coventry Spartans 2 Perrywood 1
Athium Midland Combination Division 2
At: Westwood Heath Sports Ground Pitch 1
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Attendance: 10 (headcount)
Weather: cloudy, dry
Duration: first-half: 46:26; second-half: 51:47

No weather worries so I used the trusty ‘name out of the hat method’ to decide where to head this afternoon and it gave me a pleasant trip to Midland Combination rookies Coventry Spartans. All the goals came in the first half in this contest between two evenly-matched sides at Coventry University’s Westwood Heath Sports Ground. Spartans took a 19th minute lead through Luke Thompson but Wes Joyce equalised for the visitors just before the half-hour. Scott Lindley soon restored Spartans’ lead and that was it for the scoring though Perrywood twice hit the woodwork deep into stoppage time at the end. A bonus today was a 20-page programme on sale inside the main building bar area and Pat Brunning provided good company.

I have Mike Greaves and Laurence Reade for flagging up that Coventry Spartans are a new club in 2011/12, playing at a different ground to Coventry Amateurs on Westwood Heath Road. Since the end of last season, then Midland Combination side Coventry Amateurs split into two clubs with the reserves staying put at the David Sinclair Goulding Sports Ground and retaining the name. What was last season’s Amateurs first team formed a new club with the players, as the Secretary told me, deciding on the suffix of ‘Spartans’.

The ground was straightforward to find off the A45 Coventry by-pass. Travelling south past the retail park, which includes Sainsbury’s and McDonalds, and crossing the railway, I turned right at the next roundabout. Following signs for ‘Warwick Arts Centre’, I continued along Kirby Corner Road until the Arts Centre was off to the left and went straight on into Westwood Heath Road. The ground entrance was around 200 yards on the right opposite the church.

Inside the complex there were a number of sports pitches for rugby and football with an impressive main building sports pavilion in the middle. Four games were due to be played with Spartans on the floodlight ‘Pitch 1’ immediately to the left of the entrance. It was roped off only on the near side with dugouts opposite part way up a grass bank. Elsewhere, a team in red and white stripes played a team in yellow, assuming the team in red were Stourbridge but, if so, in what competition.

Laurence mentioned on his blog report that, at the time of his visit in early September, Spartans were rock bottom on the division without a win but he saw them defeat Enville 2-1. Since then they have added three more wins to their tally and moved up to 11th in the 15-team table with a current record of 16 points from 17 games. Worcester-based visitors Perrywood (20 points from 15 games) were three places higher in eighth.

On to the action and Spartans (in sky blue shirts, navy blue shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the Westwood Road end in the first half. They created the first decent chance when Giovanni Green fed Luke Thompson who slipped the ball past the advancing Perrywood keeper Carl Preece and agonisingly inches wide of the far left post.

Spartans took the lead in the 19th minute. Thompson latched on to a low ball down the right and lifted it into an empty net after Preece rushed off his line to challenge.

Perrywood (in red shirts, red shorts and white socks) got back on level terms 10 minutes later. Jon Mann delivered a hanging cross from the right which Spartans keeper Tony Johnson missed and Wes Joyce forced the ball over the line.

But, the scores were level for less than three minutes as Spartans quickly scored what proved to be the winner. Benjamin Owusu crossed from the right which, like the equaliser, was missed by the keeper and Scott Lindley hooked the ball home at close range.

Green considered himself unlucky to be booked for diving soon early in the second half after a tackle by Perrywood captain Neil Mogford.

The visitors started to threaten. Mann’s angled shot was gathered up and Joyce fired across the face of goal.

“Get the next goal and we’ll win this game,” was the opinion of one Perrywood player and his teammates continued to press for an equaliser. Johnson produced a diving save in the 71st minute to keep out Lee Seldon’s header from Joyce’s long throw.

Having survived the scare, Spartans quickly turned defence into attack. Tristan Kabongo fed Green who beat the diving Preece only to miss by inches. One spectator shouted “yes” and like me, he thought the ball was going in.

Johnson kept his side in front in the 85th minute with one of the best saves I’ve seen all season at non-league level. Seldon hit a seemingly unstoppable close-range volley which the diving keeper kept out with a one-handed save.

Deep into stoppage time, Mann exchanged passes with Joyce on the left and hit a low drive which rebounded off the far post into the hands of Johnson.

Seconds before the full-time whistle, Perrywood won a corner from which the ball deflected off a defender and hit the bar.

The win lifted Spartans up one place into tenth while Perrywood remained two places above in eighth.

Coventry Spartans (sky blue / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Tony Johnson, 2. Kobi Ntim, 3. Ben Vallance, 4. Steven Young, 5. Rory Anaughe, 6. Benjamin Owusu, 7. William Waddell, 8. Tristan Kabongo (capt), 9. Luke Thompson, 10. Giovanni Green, 11. Scott Lindley. Subs: 12. Kenroy Dennisur (not used), 13. Peter Slatford (for Lindley, 81), 14. Scott Broadbent (not used), 15. Kieron Grant (for Thompson, 90), 16. Simon Sinkolongo (not used).

Perrywood (red/red/white): 1. Carl Preece, 2. Logan Stoddart, 3. Chris Moores, 4. Carl Smith, 5. Neil Mogford (capt), 6. Jordan Stoddart, 7. Matt Andrews, 8. Nick Pearce, 9. Wes Joyce, 10. Lee Seldon, 11. Jon Mann. Subs: 12. Dave Budden (for Pearce, 60), 14. Joel Harris (for Moores, 65), 15. Tom Baker (not used), 16. Tiago Ribero (not used), 17. Ian Urry (for Stoddard, ht).

Referee: J. Insley.
Assistants: D. Withers and J. Wright.

1-0 Luke Thompson (19)
1-1 Wes Joyce (29)
2-1 Scott Lindley (31)

Coventry Spartans: Giovanni Green (YC, 47)
Perrywood: none