After a 0-0 draw in Coventry on Saturday the sides met again at the Oval on Tuesday night to decide who would play Boldmere St Michaels in the 1st Qualifying Round.
Bedworth's Oval ground has seen a lot of changes and improvements recently. In fact I heard numerous comments from visiting supporters saying that it had changed beyond recognition since they last visited. Having never been before myself, I can't comment. However, first impression of the ground is that of a proper non-league stadium, albeit one with a much larger than average main stand (see picture) for this level.
Having totally forgotten that Bedworth had recently installed a 3G playing surface (this was only the second game on it), my first impression was 'wow! that pitch looks in remarkable condition'. It was only then that I remembered the new surface. The Oval is looking good. The new surface, as I said, looks fantastic. From the car park, entering the stadium, the main stand (pictured) is to the right. The stand houses the changing rooms and also has the dugouts directly in front of it. It's worth noting that there is also a snack and tea hut on this side of the pitch, Debz Shed. I am told that the Beduff Broth, at 50p a cup, is well worth a try. Unfortunately, when I got there Deb had sold out. Maybe next time?.
On the left hand side of the pitch is the club house and snack bar and a smaller car park (presumably for officials). The club house has a roof terrace which appears to be used by club directors, the stadium announcer and local press. I would imagine that the view of the game is perfect from up there.
Both goals are backed by hard standing and a large metal fence. At the far end there is a grass bank behind the fence, and another turnstile entrance. At the near end is the car park.
When I arrived there was already a decent sized crowd inside the ground and more cars followed me in. Being a local derby and, of course the magic of the cup, I was expecting to see a higher than average attendance. The official attendance was 252 but I have to say, it felt like there were considerably more than that in the ground, including a fair few from Coventry.
When the game kicked off it was immediately noticeable that there may have been one or two differences of opinion left over from the first game in which, I believe, there were a number of bookings. I had noted from the pre-season meeting that Sphinx felt they were intimidated by the physical approach of their opponents. There was none of that on Tuesday. Both sides were putting in some fairly robust challenges, giving the referee plenty to think about early on.
Sphinx probably just about edged the first 20 minutes but Bedworth, arguably, made the clearer chances. Then, on 29 minutes, a right-wing cross was headed home by Danny Dubidat to give the home side the lead. The Greenbacks then went on to have the lion's share of the rest of the half, coming close on a couple of occasions. However, it stayed at 1-0 until the referee blew for the close of the half.
Into the second half and it was Sphinx who came out of the blocks flying, urgently looking for an equaliser. Rickie Cutting was starting to cause some real problems for the home defence with his pace on the right.
Having said that, it was Bedworth who should have scored again when the visiting keeper parried a shot straight onto Dubidat's head, only for him to put the ball over the bar.
Then on 74 minutes the dangerous Cutting hit a far post cross for Gumery to loop back over the keeper and into the net for a deserved equaliser.
Sphinx were looking the more likely after that but, again, it was Bedworth who could easily have won it at the death when Creaney saw a shot evade the keeper only to be scrambled off the line. So, after 90 minutes, nothing could separate the teams and we headed into extra-time.
Three minutes into the added period came what I thought was the decisive moment. Bedworth won a corner and when the cross came over, Creaney made up for his earlier miss by powering a header in off the underside of the bar. That was a real kick in the teeth for Coventry who had appeared to be the stronger team for the last 20 minutes of normal time.
Then, shortly before the halfway mark of the extra time, a right wing cross was mishandled and dropped into his own net by the Sphinx keeper. There didn't seem to be any way back fro the away side at this point, and so it was to prove. Despite Sphinx never giving the game up, they couldn't make any inroads and the game finished 3-1 to Bedworth.
Since starting to write this blog, I have had the 'pleasure' of watching the second half of the England friendly against Norway. Now, I have no idea how much tickets were for this game but I am fairly certain they were more expensive than the £8 I paid at Bedworth. What I am also certain of is that I witnessed a far more entertaining game of football than the 40,000 at Wembley last night. The game is not always about the best individuals, on the most wages. It is about two teams of 11 giving it everything they have to win the match. That is what we saw on Tuesday night. The game was a credit to both teams and I certainly wish Bedworth United and Coventry Sphinx all the best for the rest of the season. Keep up the entertainment.
Bedworrth United - @BedworthUnited
Coventry Sphinx - @CoventrySphinx