Ware 1 Potters Bar Town 4
Ten thousand goals still not enough to take the points.
There have been plenty of cracking games served up on the kind of surface that a team of volunteers under the leadership of club secretary Bill Spink managed to have ready for the referee's approval. Sadly in the circumstances this wasn't one of them and whilst both teams worked hard to provide an entertaining match attempts to play flowing football were confounded by the mud.
Passes fell short in it whilst the ball sometimes skidded under feet or took an eccentric bounce. The unexpected nature of these events added momentarily to the excitement but not to the football. By the closing period of the game a ground level view of the surface failed to reveal much if any greenery in the centre of the pitch and served only as a reminder to gardeners to get that spring planting started.
The volunteers shouldn't feel down hearted. The fixture back log hasn't been extended though the margin of defeat was scant reward for their and the players' efforts. However, there is no doubt that after the opening five minutes when Ware seemed able to keep their feet better than their opponents, Potters Bar grew into the game and adjusted better to the conditions. If four goals seemed hard on Ware the Scholars looked a good enough side to gain ample reward for their margin of superiority.
Both sides had players booked in the opening five minutes suggesting that the referee was not taking the conditions into account. There again it could have been a timely warning not to take liberties on the slippery surface. If so it worked as there was only one more booking in the game.
Ware were without Dom Njoya due to work commitments meaning that Gareth Madden had a more defensive role at the expense of his midfield duties. It might have been this that made the difference midway through the first half when the ball was lost on the centre line and it was sent quickly to Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes out on the left.
The number 11 may be slight of build but he was also sleight of foot and sped across the heavy surface evading challenges on the edge of the Ware area before shooting into the bottom corner of Harry Voss's goal.
It might have stayed that way with the half time break offering the chance for Ware to adjust but on 45 minutes, with Damien Green sidelined by injury, the visitors struck again. Ben Ward-Cochrane played the ball into the centre of Ware's area and there was Costa Dias Fernandes capitalising on the gap in the back four to score with ease.
Hopes of a second half revival lasted five minutes until a free kick some 25 yards away from Ware's goal. Ward-Cochrane drove it beyond the wall and Voss's dive to give his team a three goal lead.
If Ware faced an uphill struggle they made a good fist of it and worked hard to get something out of the game. They got their reward on 67 minutes after Ace'a Laurent won the ball on the centre line then carried it forward through a number of defenders before passing to Marcus Milner. His shot appeared to take a deflection for a corner but the referee saw something else and awarded a penalty for hand ball.
Jordon Watson took the kick and, with Berkley Laurencin going the wrong way, scored what was the 10,000th goal in Ware's history. The announcement of this milestone seemed to invigorate the home side and there was the possibility of a second home goal to make things interesting.
But with ten minutes left a goal mouth scramble which saw Voss twice save before a defender cleared, ended in Eoin Casey blasting the ball back for the visitors' fourth goal. With that John Dreyer took off Dave Cowley, Laurent and Madden to save them further punishment on the playing surface and preserve them for forthcoming matches knowing that the game had clearly gone away from his team.
Voss had earlier received attention to his ankle which lasted for several minutes but the referee, no doubt hoping to save players and the pitch further wear and tear, blew his whistle just a minute into added time. No one seemed to mind.
Ware: Harry Voss, Gareth Madden (Anthony Furlonge 82mins), Alaa Oujdi, Josh Oyibo, Damien Green, Bradley Fraser, Marcus Milner, Leigh Rose, Jordon Watson, Dave Cowley (Ross Elsom 80mins), Ace'a Laurent (Harley Haag 80mins). Unused subs: Finley Long, Charlie Yexley.