FOOTBALL: SUBSTITUTE Ryan Harkin bagged a brace as Coventry Sphinx scored three second half goals to claim their sixth home victory of the season against AFC Wulfrunians.
After two months without a home game, Sphinx picked up where they left off with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Sphinx Drive on Saturday with Harkin making a difference from the bench early in the second period.
Manager Stuart Dutton handed debuts to new signings Edi Appleton, Lewis Hudson and Pierce Kiembi, while Callum Woodward replaced Luke Downes in midfield.
Sphinx had a glorious chance to take the lead inside the first minute of play but Jamie Towers did not punish the visiting goalkeeper who was out of position.
Kiembi was looking lively on his debut and came close to scoring when a Nathan McGarrity drive was blocked inside the box and as Kiembi pounced, the ball was smothered out by the Wulfrunians defence.
The visitors threatened just after the half-hour mark with an accurate cross from the right which was connected by a striker who send a shot inches over Dutton’s bar, and moments later Dutton saved smartly as the first half endeed goalless.
Almost immediately after the restart debutant Kiembi went down with a shoulder problem and was replaced by Harkin.
Sphinx controlled most of the play in the opening 15 minutes of the half without troubling their opponents and they were almost punished had it not been for another important save by Dutton.
The deadline was finally broken mid-way through the second half when Harkin was put clean through on goal and the Sphinx man kept his composure before firing low into the back of the net with 68 minutes on the clock.
The Wulfrunians response was instant as Dutton tipped over a superb long range strike and and a free kick soon after thumped the Sphinx crossbar.
Towers thought he had doubled the lead with a header but the referee remained unconvinced the ball had crossed the line before the clearance came.
Towers was becoming a real menace and his run down the right created the next chance for Sphinx which ended with Woodward driving just wide of the upright.
Wulfrunians remained a threat themselves though and the second goal from Harkin on 81 minutes was necessary to secure the result. McGarrity was the architect and his good work set up Harkin for a close range finish.
Two minutes later Sphinx wrapped up the win with powerful Towers header and their day was made all the more better by holding out for a clean sheet.
Harkin still had time to look for his hat-trick and his shot from the by-line rolled agonisingly along the face of goal.
Sphinx are back in action on Tuesday night away at Tividale before playing Coventry United at Sphinx Drive.