Ware 1 Maldon & Tiptree 2
Close but no cigar as Ware push the league leaders all the way.
This wasn't a game of two halves so much as one of two quarters with Ware edging the first twenty or so minutes without damaging the visitors before Maldon showed in the remaining twenty why they are league leaders. Two goals before the break were enough to take the points from this game despite a Ware resurgence in the second half.
Ware were without the unavailable Joe Reynolds and the suspended Josh Oyibo but started well. Debut man Geoff Mitchell was put through as early as the second minute with just the keeper to beat but failed to connect properly with the bouncing ball and skewed it high over the bar. Two minutes later Dean Mason put in a cross but it was just too close to Daniel Wilks who gathered the ball under pressure from Gareth Price.
An eleventh minute corner saw Wilks punching clear from under the intersection of his cross bar and right hand post whilst ten minutes later Price had the ball in the net only to be given offside.
Even so, with 25 minutes gone Maldon had the best chance up to that point and only a great save from Behcet followed by Jerry Kamanzi skying the loose ball over the bar from inside the six yard box prevented Ware going behind. Maldon, however, had smelled blood and started to turn on the pressure.
Three minutes later Marcus Rose needed a sliding tackle to save a dangerous move at the expense of a corner but soon after Femi Akinwandi had just enough time to turn on a ball at the left corner of Ware's penalty area to hit a strong shot into the roof of Behcet's net. And it was two-nil five minutes later when a quick break left the ball at Akinwandi's feet with only the exposed Behcet to beat.
After this Maldon seemed to take control and played some good football that threatened to produce another goal. But Ware held firm and before the half time whistle produced one more chance. A cross field pass from Alaa Oujdi to Murat Karagul saw the front man control the ball well and take it to the edge of the Maldon area but his shot was well wide of the mark.
Ware had the perfect start to the second half. After Mitchell again lofted a chance over the bar Price was next in action, dribbling the ball along Maldon's right hand goal line. With everyone expecting him to pull it back to a colleague he simply stroked the ball home between Wilks and his near post.
The rest of the half was an entertaining contest of cut and thrust with Ware's best chance coming at the end of a good passing move that saw Junior Appiah crossing to Price who volleyed over the bar on 73 minutes. Six minutes later Akinwandi might have completed a hat trick but his shot was straight at Behcet who none the less had to be alert to parry it away.
The number of Ware attacks mounted as time began to run out but it was to no avail and supporters were left to reflect on a good display that garnered no points. Had the Blues produced this performance in midweek they may well not have lost but that is past. What of the future?
Despite his misses Mitchell looks as though he will be a handful for defences and the team played well against a strong opposition. However, there remains the need to put in performances like this more regularly especially with Tuesday's visit to second placed Brightlingsea next on the agenda.
Ware: Darren Behcet, Anthony Furlonge, Alaa Oujdi, Ryan Hervel, Marcus Rose, Jack Fowler, Dean Mason (Junior Appiah 64mins), Immed Kartita (Rokas Janilionis 84mins), Gareth Price, Geoff Mitchell (Kambo Smith 74mins), Murat Karagul. Unused subs: Lewis Soraf, Russell Harley.