League & Cup Results 2002/03
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Coventry Sphinx 2 Leamington 4 - 01/10/02 -
Midland Combination Premier Division
Taken from the Leamington Courier Online
PAUL Nicholls scored a hat-trick to take Leamington joint top of the Icis Midland Combination Premier Division on Tuesday night.
Clear daylight was removed 24 hours later by Rugby Town's 1-0 win at Marconi edged them in front on goal difference, but with fellow challengers Highgate slipping up at Bolehall Swifts it was a good week for Jason Cadden and Barry Proctor's side.
With former Racing Club Warwick men Richard Wade and Micky Callender to the fore, Sphinx looked every bit the side who finished second in the table last season and beat the then Division One Brakes 3-2 in the Endsleigh Challenge Cup.
Nicholls struck a post from distance early on, but Callender raced on to a through ball to put Sphinx ahead on 17 minutes. The Coventry side did themselves no favours after half an hour, being reduced to ten men when Ray Downing was dismissed for a foul on Brian Agar.
Nicholls smashed the penalty into the roof of the net. But on the stroke of half time they were back in front with a penalty of their own for handball. Danny McSheffrey, brother of Sky Blues striker Gary, made no mistake from the spot.
Agar restored parity on the hour, neatly putting the loose ball into the net
after a goalkeeping fumble. Glen Webb replaced Chris Hammond soon after that as Brakes looked to up thetempo. Their sporadic pressure soon paid dividends. Agar was tripped after some great footwork and Nicholls finished accurately after the referee played a sensible advantage.
Nicholls emphatically marked the end of a barren spell with his third goal, sliding in at the back post to convert a Chris Hanrahan cross. It was enough to put Brakes top - albeit briefly - for the first time this season.
The display pleased joint boss Cadden. "It wasn't the best of first halves and it was a bit of a funny game but we got it right and had much the better of it after that," he said. "Paul Nicholls was superb and could have had five or six." The defence also did well, particularly livewire wing back Ben Adams.