Ware 0 Heybridge Swifts 3
Landmark game is one to forget. Ware lose unbeaten home record to relegation haunted Swifts.
The milestone of 5,000 games seemed not to inspire Ware in this fixture, maybe it weighed too heavily on them. Heybridge Swifts on the other hand, needing points to escape the relegation zone, came with a positive attitude and carried the game to Ware in the first half.
Straight from the kick off Alaa Oujdi under pressure from Jack Barham almost put a black mark against his own milestone 100th appearance for the club with an under hit back pass to Kyle Forster. Barham was on to it immediately and attempted a lob which Forster was just able to grab.
Barham was to be the focal point of Swifts attacks throughout the first 45 minutes as his midfield sought him out at every opportunity to run at the Ware defence. By contrast Ware's attacks were full of the neat inter-passing that has characterised them all season but there were few real attempts on goal.
Swifts took the lead as early as the 13th minute when a corner on Ware's left came over at head height with as many as three red-shirted men by the near post. It was just a matter of who would get the credit for the goal with Jack Smith quite literally getting the nod.
In an uninspiring first half play continued in the same vein with Ware forcing plenty of corners but unable to convert them into the sort of chance that Swifts had managed. The visitors looked dangerous on the counter but their second goal was down to a tragicomedic moment after 23 minutes. Jack Mace headed a gentle pass back to Forster but the keeper, so often a rock behind his defenders this season, somehow failed to hold the ball and it did little more than trickle through his legs and into the net.
It was a crucial goal. Ware now had to score twice to get anything out of the game and although they have responded successfully to that challenge more than once this season they started to look rattled. There was an air of desperation about their play and it was with some relief that the half time whistle was blown without further addition to the score.
The benefit of the half time break brought some order to things but whilst Ware applied more pressure and generally had the better share of possession and territory they still had little more than a handful of half chances. The best opportunity came after 63 minutes when Oujdi's free kick caught the Swifts defence off guard to play Aston Goss down the left wing. His cross was met by Murat Karagul whose header was just wide.
Karagul and Gareth Price worked hard all evening to pull the game round but Price in particular was well shadowed by the visiting defence no doubt in recognition of his goal scoring record. Josh Oyibo came off the bench to add to the energy being shown by Ware but eventually ended with a yellow card for his trouble.
The evening was summed up with six minutes of normal time remaining. A Swifts free kick on their left came low into the penalty area where Marcus Rose stooped to head it away but instead deflected it inside Forster's right hand post.
Two own goals and a 3-0 defeat to the team second from bottom in the table to end your unbeaten home record. It wasn't quite the way this milestone fixture was meant to go.
Ware: Kyle Forster, Jack Mace, Alaa Oujdi, Ryan Hervel (Josh Oyibo 63mins), Marcus Rose, Tom Bradbury, Aston Goss (Dani Ladeira 79mins), Joe Reynolds, Murat Karagul, Gareth Price, Evandro Delgado. Unused subs: Nicholas Briggs, Finley Long, Joe Simmonds.