SHAWBURY United manager Dave Richards admitted his players were still on a learning curve when it comes to playing in the Midland Football League.

The Ludlow-based side fought back from going two goals down to level at high-fliers Coventry Sphinx on Saturday only to lose 3-2 late on when they were caught pushing for their own winner.

“The lads showed great character to claw their way back into the game but we’ve then gone looking for that third goal and left ourselves open at the back,” Richards said.

“When we are drawing away at one of the top sides like Coventry Sphinx, we maybe have to shut up shop, settle for a point and concentrate on winning our home games.”

Saturday’s opponents settled quickly and opened the scoring through Callum Woodward after 11 minutes.

Defender Louis Guest doubled Sphinx’s lead with a fine strike four minutes before the break but an injury time effort from Dan Beddows gave Shawbury a boost going into the second half.

Skipper Sean Evans then hit a stunning free-kick into the top corner to level the scores on 55 minutes only for Ryan Harkin to bag a winner for the home side ten minutes from the end.

Richards’ side were due to play host to third-placed Sporting Khalsa on Wednesday before taking on mid-table Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday.

“After avoiding relegation on the final day last season, the plan this time was to improve the squad and finish mid-table,” he said.

“We have lads who want to play for the right reason. They are a good bunch and we have built a decent atmosphere at the club.

“Last season, a few of the sides down the bottom threw money at it at the end of the season and finished mid-table. That’s not how we do things at Shawbury.”

And Richards paid tribute to skipper Evans who can include Manchester United and Shrewsbury Town among his former clubs.

The 30-year-old midfielder suffered a broken leg while playing for AFC Telford before linking up with Stourbridge.

“He’s a clever player who can win you free-kick and who knows how to slow the game down,” the Shawbury boss explained.

“When we moved to Ludlow we wanted some local players in the side and he was one that was mentioned.

"We approached him pre-season and while a few people thought he wouldn’t stick it out, he’s been impressive.

"We made him our captain and he’s scored some quality goals."