Ware 0 Brightlingsea Regent 3
Defensive lapses cost Ware as Brightlingsea go clear at the top.
The score line reads as a hugely disappointing, not to mention morale sapping outcome from a game in which Ware enjoyed an equal share of possession and territory. They even won the corner count 6-3 but you have to put the ball in the net and the visitors clearly edged matters in that respect. Ware were reliant on Geoff Mitchell's headers and flicks but too often there was no-one available to take advantage beyond the lone Gareth Price who put in his usual good shift.
Supporters might have been anxious before the start of this game given the 5-0 defeat in the away game just four days earlier but Ware started well. They had their weekend faces on which suggested that the recent string of poor performances in midweek would not be repeated. Nor was there a repeat but mistakes at the back were ultimately to be their undoing.
That was all for the second half but for the moment Ware had a good spell and as early as the fifth minute might have taken the lead. Mitchell supplied Price whose ball across the six yard box had Sam Cowler in the Regent goal floundering but no one was on hand to steer the loose ball into the net from a couple of feet and it bounced away to safety.
Ware continued to have the upper hand and by the time Brightlingsea won their first corner in the 17th minute had won four of their own. Regent's effort was headed harmlessly over but it was a sign that they were beginning to feel their way into the match. As a result the rest of the half was an even handed affair with the visitors looking comfortable playing the ball across their back four whilst looking for the chance to create an opening.
Even so it was Ware who had a good chance on the half hour when Price robbed Matt Cripps in his own half and carried the ball goalwards. But good recovery work forced Price wide and his shot was straight at Cowler who gathered the ball at ground level.
Half time brought the feeling that the game was anyone's and that the first goal might be enough to settle things. So it was disappointing when, far from the first time this season, Ware conceded within five minutes of the restart. A good move down the left led to an opening for Brightlingsea that was well blocked by Darren Behcet but Jake Turner was closest to the loose ball and reacted to hit it into the net.
Ware responded almost immediately and Murat Karagul's corner was met by Josh Oyibo on the edge of the area. His shot seemed to beat Cowler but was cleared from the goal line by an alert defender. It was enough to tell Ware that there was still something on offer from the game and they enjoyed another good spell playing down the slope in search of an equaliser.
It was all undone with just over 15 minutes to go. Karagul's tempting cross was cleared up field where Junior Appiah, having a good game at right back, could have intercepted. Instead Marcus Rose took his captain's responsibility to the limit and went to cut it off himself. However he couldn't quite make it and instead clipped the ball into the path of Phil Kelly who was left with only Behcet to beat for 2-0.
The search for at least a consolation continued but with two minutes of normal time left Alaa Oujdi blotted what had been a strong performance when he under hit a back pass to Behcet. This time it was Ricky Griggs who exploited the exposed keeper to round off a good day for the visitors. With Maldon & Tiptree beaten at Bury, Regent are three points clear at the top with a game in hand.
If there was to be any consolation for the Blues it was in the debut of Reece Simpson who gave an assured and exemplary performance in midfield. The retirement of Joe Reynolds already seems to have been compensated for.
Ware: Darren Behcet, Junior Appiah, Alaa Oujdi, Reece Simpson, Marcus Rose, Lewis Soraf, Kambo Smith (Ryan Hervel 67mins), Josh Oyibo, Gareth Price, Geoff Mitchell, Murat Karagul. Unused subs: Dean Mason, Russell Harley, Rokas Janilionis, Jack Mace.