Coventry Sphinx 0 Worcester City 1

MATCH winner and joint-manager Lee Hughes praised the character of his Worcester City side as they held on to claim a narrow 1-0 win at Coventry Sphinx despite Bekir Halil’s red card, writes Ciaran Thomas.

Halil saw red midway through the second half, a moment which swung the momentum in the hosts' favour, but City’s defence ensured Hughes’ 26th-minute header was the only goal.

The win saw Worcester bounce back from the midweek defeat to Heanor Town as they moved up to third, six points off leaders Bromsgrove Sporting.

“It was a difficult pitch to play on but the lads dug in and we were superb. The work-rate and the effort was top drawer,” Hughes said.

“We went down to 10 and the lads showed great character.

“We created a few chances, it was hard to stand out there let alone play football, but we did play the conditions better than we did on Wednesday and deserved the victory.

“It’s nice (to score the winning goal). I was falling back a bit and helped it into the goal but it’s about the overall performance from the lads. The effort was second to none.

“Hopefully this shows the character of the players - to go out there, pick themselves up and hopefully now we can bounce back.

"We’ve got four winnable games coming up so we could be back in the mix.”

On a bobbly surface in Coventry, both sides struggled to gain a foothold in the early stages but as they got to grips with the pitch Worcester gradually took control.

Alex Tomkinson’s good work down the left found Matt Birley whose shot was palmed behind by Sphinx keeper Jake Allingan and he then had to tip Tomkinson’s corner over the bar.

But a similar Tomkinson’s corner five minutes later saw City ahead, swung under the bar to find Hughes at the back post who was falling as he connected with his header but still able to steer it into the net.

Hughes neatly exchanged passes with Dave Reynolds as they hunted a quickfire second but the latter’s shot lacked any conviction.

Nathan Vaughan in the City goal had been largely a spectator but was called into action to gather Ryan Harkin’s shot while Jordan Stoddart was perhaps lucky only to be booked for a lunging tackle.

Clear-cut chances remained at a premium after the break with Hughes unable to get a shot away in the box before hooking goalwards from a free-kick but straight at Allingan.

Having looked in control, the match turned on Halil’s dismissal with the right-back shown red after an altercation as the players jostled in the box while Sphinx prepared to swing in a free-kick.

Luke Downes' strike hit the post shortly after with Vaughan rooted to the spot before City’s keeper made a good save to push Harkin’s shot round the upright.

It was now all Sphinx and Chris Sterling could only head straight at Vaughan before in injury-time Rhys Deehan whistled a shot narrowly wide but Worcester held on.

City: Vaughan, Halil, Weir, M Smith, Stoddart, Forsyth, Birley, Birch, Hughes (Baldwin 64), Reynolds, Tomkinson (Thomas 74). Subs not used: Moran, Harris-James, Gwynne.

Attendance: 160.