Waltham Abbey 2 Ware 1
Another frustrating afternoon as mistakes hand the game to Abbey.
Two second half goals were enough to give the points to the home side and lift them above Ware in the table. Ware were without Gareth Price (suspended) and Tom Bradbury who was rested after his concussion on Tuesday but there could be no excuses for allowing this game to drift from their grasp.
Not that it looked likely to do so at half time as Ware held a deserved lead courtesy of Joe Reynolds deftly placed free kick. Aside from a breakaway that momentarily caught the Ware defence on the hop the home side had rarely looked in the hunt.
There was no hint of that in the opening period and for much of the first 25 minutes play had not been of a great quality from either side. Ware did at least fashion two chances in this time, the first coming on 15 minutes when an Aston Goss free kick reached Brian Haule whose header was clawed round his right hand post by Lewis Lockyer.
Seven minutes later another free kick also seemed destined for Haule's head but this time a defender cleared it away from near Lockyer's other post for another corner.
Then it was Abbey's turn to cause trouble after a long clearance found Darrelle Russell with only Kyle Forster to beat on the edge of his area. He was delayed long enough by the keeper for Murat Karagul to get back to intervene though in the ensuing tussle for the ball it was Forster's boot that cleared it.
It was a chance out of nothing and in retrospect an omen for what was to come after half time. Initially however Ware responded well and their midfield slowly took a tighter grip on the game snuffing out anything Abbey had going forward until with five minutes to go before the break they won another free kick on their left, five metres outside the area.
As Reynolds lined himself up to take the kick most eyes were on his team mates as they jostled for a good position in front of goal. They needn't have bothered as Reynold's kick was so perfectly placed that there was no chance of Lockyer pushing this one round the post. Instead the ball lightly kissed the upright on its way into the net.
Ware now seemed well in control and had there been more time on the referee's watch might well have increased their lead.
They almost did five minutes into the second half when Mekhi McLeod drove into the area before unleashing a rasping shot that hit the underside of the bar and bounced in front of the goal line before being cleared.
Such is the way of things that from a possible 2-0 lead Ware soon found themselves pegged back to parity. Another long ball out of defence on 54 minutes was chased by Russell but Karagul was there first. However, his attempted clearance missed the ball and the Abbey man was on to it and lobbing the advancing Forster for the equaliser in quick time.
Ware might have regained the lead three minutes later when McLeod took the ball to the byline before pulling it back to Haule who side footed the ball towards goal. Perhaps a full blooded thump would have been better but instead there was Billy Holland, making the first of two significant contributions, to hack it away from off the line.
But the equaliser had, as goals often do, energised the home side and they had their best spell of the game for the next ten minutes. This reached its apex when an Abbey corner was allowed to be headed back across the Ware goal mouth and there was Holland again, one of the smallest players on the pitch, free to head home what proved to be the winner.
Ware tried to get something out of the game and with ten minutes left the ball was again cleared off the Abbey goal line only to be returned with interest. This time it was gathered by Lockyer on his line at the foot of a post.
Frustration mounted for Ware as they applied almost continual pressure and Josh Oyibo picked up a yellow card. There was even a mad moment when the referee surprised everyone by awarding a dropped ball in the home area in added time but Ware couldn't exploit the opportunity and the defeat was confirmed by the final whistle shortly after.
Ware: Kyle Forster, Jack Mace, Alaa Oujdi, Ryan Hervel (Josh Oyibo 67mins), Marcus Rose, Murat Karagul, Evandro Delgado, Joe Reynolds, Brian Haule, Aston Goss, Mekhi McLeod (Dani Ladeira 78mins). Unused subs: Luis Fernandes, Finley Long, Joe Simmonds