Ware 0 Arlesey Town 1
From Kem to Ken via more than one missed pen. But match is later ordered to be replayed.
The news which emerged immediately after this match that it was Kem Kemal's last game as manager will have overwhelmed the reaction to what was probably the strangest match seen at Wodson Park. There were three missed penalties plus a late goal against the run of play for the ten-man visitors which, as it turned out, should not have been awarded.
Ken Charlery, the former Birmingham, Watford, Peterborough and Barnet player who replaces Kemal with experience as assistant manager at St Albans, will hope for something more straightforward when he takes charge for the visit of Barton Rovers in ten days time.
Arlesey started the game on the back of two wins and looked as though they intended to make it three as they maintained pressure on Ware and kept play very much in the Ware half. With the greasy conditions of Ware's 6-0 humbling at Aylesbury again in evidence after significant rain and only partially ameliorated by the over-long grass it looked as though they might be overwhelmed again.
But they weathered the storm and started to mount their own attacks on the visitors. One foray into the box found Finbarr Robins with his back to goal and a jostling defender to which Robins responded with his own jostling. It seemed a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other but there was the referee pointing to the spot.
Kieran Bishop, who scored a penalty on the previous Saturday, couldn't repeat the feat this time with the ball hitting the fence high behind the goal.
Arlesey were down to ten men on 41 minutes, Ben Farrell having earlier caught Paul Cooper in a nasty clash before picking up a second yellow for an overzealous sliding tackle in front of the main stand. Even so his team had the best chance of the half from open play when a goal was only prevented by Jack Smith standing up to a ferocious shot from short range.
The second half took on a different feel with Ware at times almost relentless in the pursuit of a goal and Arlesey reduced to hopeful balls forward more as a relief for their defence than in hope of an attack. During this period Ware had numerous chances but signs that it might not be their day came in the 59th minute when Robins fed Bishop whose shot hit a post and came back across the front of goal before being cleared. Ware's immediate response was a shot from the returning and impressive Corey Davidson which needed a good save from Nick Thompson.
Three minutes later what appeared to be a fair shoulder charge in the Ware area was waved away by the referee Mr Greenwood before his assistant raised his flag. A discussion ensued between the two before the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Ware needn't have worried as Louis Lee did what Bishop had done in the first half and rattled the ground's outer fencing with another high ball.
The home side lived to fight again but a bizarre set of circumstances saw them go a goal down in the 87th minute. After an injury to Cooper the game was restarted with an uncontested dropped ball which, from close to the half way line, Nathan Olukanmi played back towards the Ware goal. With Ware needing to get back on the attack it was surprising that Smith didn't claim the ball but instead walked back alongside it until it gently crossed the goal line.
Presumably Smith knew something the officials didn't because he then picked the ball up quite unperturbed and with the referee seemingly unaware of quite what had happened until his assistant indicated that it was a goal. Smith remonstrated but to no avail.
Ware's apparent request to the Arlesey captain to allow them a "free" goal in return was robustly rejected which was not surprising until clarification after the match that in the specific circumstances of a "goal" being scored direct from a dropped ball a goal kick should be awarded. Who beyond Jack Smith knew that? Not the officials it seems.
Even so Ware had another bite of the cherry when Cooper was brought down in the area for a second penalty to the home side. This time Bishop kept his shot low but it was too near Thompson who guessed right and made a comfortable save.
Afterwards Bishop apologised for his two misses to the fans behind the goal but given all the pressure and possession that Ware had they shouldn't have needed penalties. It was the most disappointing and bizarre end possible to Kem Kemal's time as manager but something, one assumes, for Ken Charlery to work on.
Ware: Jack Smith, Paul Cooper, Alaa Oujdi, Ryan Maxwell, Jack Fowler (Jaszime Johnson 64mins), Ben Crilley, Rod Young, Liam Griffin, Kieran Bishop, Finbarr Robins, Corey Davidson. Unused subs: Cameron Currie, Luke Kanjor, James Manlove, Mickey Clark