Royston Town 3 Ware 1
Royston complete their first ever double over The Blues.
Royston Town 3 Ware 1
As the Emirates Stadium dawdled past the window of my train to Royston that was 30 minutes late leaving Kings Cross and now slowly inching through signalling problems, I knew that at best I was likely to be able to write a report only on the second half. Please be patient, I'll do my best with a game that ended our good defensive run and kept Royston just within touching distance of automatic promotion.
Meanwhile the train started to pick up speed past Alexandra Palace and by the time I checked again we were doing a fair lick through Potters Bar. Didn't they lose 4-1 at Royston a week before? Not a good omen and where were the tweets to tell me the game had started? It turned out it was late kicking off and I didn't get the tweet until Welwyn Garden City.
A fox on the line side as we came to a halt just south of Hitchin made me think of Leicester City and their unlikely rise to the top of the Premier League and then of the more unexpected performance of Kings Langley in our own division. Could they make it to Step 3 and could their ground really be good enough for that level?
Well, you need the team to be good enough more than anything else and you can't argue with their form. Ware have demonstrated good form of late but would we do it against Royston reputedly on a large budget and one of the few clubs left capable of beating Langley to top spot?
Just after Baldock a tweet told me that Josh Oyibo had scored and I knew instinctively that it was a good goal. So it was, a thirty-yarder after 22 minutes I was told later though experience has taught me that a distance can be exaggerated in these circumstances even when it is there to see and measure on Match of the Day.
Eventually I arrived at the ground to be confronted by a scene which was clearly the aftermath of a flare up between players who now stood around listlessly as the referee sorted out the next step. That was a free kick to Royston and in no time a couple of passes opened up the Ware defence for Ryan Ingrey to equalise from close in. Irrationally I blamed the goal on myself for not waiting until half time to come into the ground.
I heard a Royston supporter tell his neighbour that it was a good job his team had scored "the next goal" and took it as a sign that the first 45 minutes had been a close contest with a second goal to Ware just as likely as the one I had just seen.
The half time whistle went shortly after and if there were any complaints about the referee (there were from a Ware supporter - he had allowed the home side to talk him into penalising Ware too often) they might actually have come from both sides as the respective managers form a queue to speak to him in the confines of his dressing room.
Within five minutes of the restart Kieran Bishop had a great chance to regain the lead as he bore down on goal but he was denied by a great saving tackle from behind. There are a few more chances later in the half but Ware were down to nine men and fighting an uphill battle by that stage.
Royston's season has been littered with penalties and they earned two more in this game. In the circumstances it is a natural tendency to suggest their players go down too easily but there could be little complaint in this game. For some reason after 57 minutes Dernell Wynter clipped the heels of a Royston man he was chasing across the edge of the area away from goal. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot.
Ware picked up four yellows in a game that, at least while I was there, never turned ugly but soon received the first of two reds in an altercation after Scott Bridges converted the penalty for 2-1. Khale Dacosta went for the penalty incident but it wasn't long before Justin Leavers followed him to the dressing room. Leavers had only been on for a short time and a mistimed tackle was his undoing.
A second penalty came after Murat Karagul, usually no slouch, was being outrun and launched a desperate attempt to reclaim the ball. This time Bridges hit the bar with the spot kick and as a result Ware retained a chance as Royston failed to exploit the gaps in their ranks and the visitors made occasional headway into the Royston penalty area. But Ware conceded a third near the end when Tom Coulton was out jumped by Simon Thomas who appeared to head the ball out of the keeper's hands before he had properly taken hold of it.
If there is anything that Ware can take from this game it is the performance of Jake Chambers-Shaw who once again was tireless in midfield. He prefers a more attacking role than the one allocated but is apparently happy at Ware who will hope to keep him that way next season. The injuries to Marcus Rose and Oyibo are the other side of the coin and they may well not be available for Saturday's final game of the season at home to Hanwell.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Jack Mace (Steven O'Hara 81mins), Murat Karagul, Jake Chambers-Shaw, Marcus Rose (Harry Singh 83mins), George Essuman, Khale Dacosta, Josh Oyibo (Justin Leavers 53mins), Kieran Bishop, Dernell Wynter, Jack Hutchinson. Unused subs: Joe Simmonds.