Uxbridge 3 Ware 1
Disappointment at Honeycroft.
There's no disguising the disappointment of this result. Ware, having lost their last four matches all by the odd goal, games that they could and in some cases should have won, needed to get their season back on track by beating an Uxbridge side struggling for form.
Instead they failed to impose themselves on the game and whilst the home side could hardly claim to have dominated proceedings they did enough to exploit some poor defending whilst shutting out Ware's attacks at the other end of the field.
With Alaa Oujdi unavailable, Paul Cooper now with Cambridge City and Jack Fowler unaccountably opting to join Heybridge Swifts' relegation battle in Ryman North, Ware were forced to ring the changes in defence. Steven O'Hara came in at centre back from St Albans whilst Murat Karagul dropped into the left back role with Karl Stevenson at right back.
Hopefully it's just a matter of this combination needing to settle in but Uxbridge weren't about to give them the opportunity and were ahead inside eight minutes. A corner on their right wasn't dealt with and eventually fell to Wayne Carter. He had his back to goal but hooked the ball over his shoulder and into the net before anyone had time to react.
This lifted the home side and they had the better of things for a while thanks in part to Ware's inability to hold on to the ball. Even so the visitors began to build a response and had their best period in the second quarter of the game.
Rod Young started things with a fine shot in the 26th minute which Paul McCarthy in the home goal turned round the post for a corner. From this O'Hara was on hand to shoot narrowly over the bar.
Kieran Bishop was the next one in action causing a problem for the home defence which they could only solve at the expense of another corner. A fierce shot from the same player in the 33rd minute whistled past the post and two minutes later he fired into the side netting from a good position.
At the other end Ben Crilley, playing his first game as Ware captain, a role his grandfather also filled, lost the ball and only smart work by Tom Coulton saved the day. Even so the half ended with Ware adding to their corner count but the ball was safely dealt with by the home defence.
On the strength of Ware's improving first half performance and a surprisingly influential wind that was now in their favour the second half seemed to bring hope that they could pull something out of the game. To emphasise this Jack Mace was brought on to allow Karagul to push forward.
Instead Uxbridge doubled their lead with another early goal from a corner. This time it was from the left but Carter was there again to rise unchallenged and head home. The effect of this seemed to be to undermine the confidence of a predominantly young Ware side which then struggled to put moves together.
There were still chances however but they were well handled by a strong defence which was robust at times not least when Bishop was brought down on the edge of the area when seemingly clear. A yellow card was the result though not enough to satisfy the visiting supporters behind the goal. The resultant free kick was driven harmlessly against the defensive wall.
It was a mark of Ware's day that another free kick out on the left was gathered by McCarthy who set up a break that ended with Reece Grant sliding the ball home for Uxbridge's third from a difficult angle and despite the attention of defenders.
The game was not quite over and Harley Haag showed what might have been when he cut inside to score past McCarthy. But there was barely time for the restart and Ware were left to consider how Uxbridge had been allowed to score twice from corners of which they had but three in the game. Ware forced eight corners but couldn't make them count. They, like numerous crosses from the wings, were dealt with by a tall defence and commanding keeper. It was a day for keeping the ball on the ground but there was too little of that.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Karl Stevenson, Murat Karagul, Ryan Hervel, Ben Crilley, Steven O'Hara, Rod Young, Khale Dacosta (Harley Haag 72mins), Kieran Bishop, Elliot Bailey (Jimmy Hartley 58mins), Danny Hart (Jack Mace 46mins). Unused subs: Josh Oyibo, Albert Akinoemi.