Tilbury 2 Ware 1
Ware not up to the mark as Tilbury master the conditions better than the Blues.
This was, as Manager John Dreyer conceded after the match, a step back after two forward. It certainly seemed that Ware weren't quite on the ball, somehow unable to raise their game sufficiently or for long enough on a heavy surface.
Not at the start though with both teams creating half chances before a second opportunity arose for Ware after five minutes. Harley Haag was put through one on one with Tilbury keeper Clarke Bogard but shot at the one-time Ware stopper rather than past him, the ball hitting his legs before being gathered safely.
Despite the setback Ware continued to look confident but less in control than of late and that allowed Tilbury to find their feet. It didn't help that Ware were making problems for themselves by giving the ball away and whilst Tilbury were kept at bay the corner count mounted.
It was from one of these at the midpoint of the half that the Dockers took the lead. The ball came over from Ware's left into the six yard box, found its way through the defence and appeared to have gone straight in until Siju Odelusi emerged from a crowd of players offering him congratulations for what must have been a slight deflection.
Ware couldn't seem to raise themselves and it might have been 2-0 a few minutes later when Garry Malone failed to hold Dwade James' shot, spilling the ball into the path of Adam Vyse. As it was, the Tilbury captain somehow contrived to shoot over with the goal at his mercy.
Ware did get back into the game with ten minutes left to half time. Ace'a Laurent cut through the Tilbury midfield until tackled on the edge of area with the ball breaking to Haag. This time he kept his nerve and shot into the corner of the net with Bogard's defenders vehemently claiming offside. It was the first of three contentious offside decisions in relatively quick succession.
The second came five minutes later. With Ware now looking much more confident and beginning to play some controlled football Yannick Kamanan was in the Tilbury area and on the end of a long cross. Meeting it first time he gave Bogard no chance for what appeared to be a great goal low into the net only to find that the assistant was flagging for an unexpected offside.
Even so, from a Ware point of view the game had surely been turned around and things looked good for the second half. The optimism lasted two minutes before a quick break released James down the Tilbury left with Ware calling for what they felt was another clear offside. No flag came and the home number 10 put the ball across to Toby Aromolaran who shot past the exposed Malone to regain the lead for his team.
Ware again lost momentum though they slowly recovered it, Ahmed Abdulla's powerful shot on 56 minutes being the start of a ten minute period of Ware pressure. Moments later Laurent had a chance with a long range effort before good interplay between Marcus Milner and Haag forced a corner. Kamanan was next with a fierce shot that was palmed away into vacant space, begging for a Ware player to be following up and then the big Frenchman was at it again with a shot that was blocked away for a corner. From this Damien Green was on hand with a header that was cleared from the goal line.
However, hopes of an equaliser received a blow on 73 minutes when Laurent, already booked somewhat harshly in the first half for apparently kicking the ball away at a free kick, mistimed a tackle leaving the referee to reach again for his yellow card.
Yet Ware continued to search for an equaliser and if they had lost Laurent's ability to run through a defence they found that centre back Louis Bowen wasn't too bad at the same task. But as Ware began to throw caution to the wind looking for a goal they were sometimes exposed at the back not least when Charlie Little broke free. With just Malone to beat he saw his shot bounce off one post and on to the other before the Ware keeper fell on it.
After the game, Dreyer spoke calmly and constructively about his team. There is no doubt that the back four are the bedrock but there is still work to be done before Ware can build for consistent success on that foundation. Meanwhile the anticipated 3G surface for next season is expected to aid the search for good quality, entertaining football.
Ware: Garry Malone, Charlie Yexley, Dominique Njoya, Ahmed Abdulla, Damien Green, Louis Bowen, Marcus Milner, Ace'a Laurent, Yannick Kamanan (Conor Okus 74mins), Harley Haag (Daniel Olusemo 74mins), Ross Elsom (Alaa Oujdi 85mins). Unused subs: Finley Long, Gareth Madden.