Ware 4 Cheshunt 1
Ware almost safe. Just one point needed from final game.
The crowd were entertained by a match that was closer than the score suggests with both sides giving their all. Perhaps the main difference was that Ware needed a win whilst Cheshunt's hopes of the play-offs were hanging by a thread that was to be cut once other results came in no matter what the outcome of this game.
Yet even at 3-1 finger nails were being bitten as past experience had shown Ware might let the game slip until Brian Haule (back from a spell with Aylesbury) combined with his old partner Gareth Price to score a fourth and end any worries. Both players beat the Cheshunt offside trap and as the ball fell towards Price he was in a race for it with visiting keeper James May, leaving his goal unguarded in the process. Price was there first and headed over May leaving Haule the time and space to pick his moment to shoot into the empty net.
With Just four minutes left the game was as good as won and the response from players and supporters was appropriately ecstatic. Ware are now clear of the relegation zone and need only a point from next week's visit to VCD Athletic to guarantee safety, not, one suspects, that there will be any attempt to play for a draw. That holds dangers and Ware are not the sort of team with the temperament to risk it.
The Blues had gone ahead as early as the fourth minute. Ryan Hervel's corner on the right was headed back into the six-yard box by Jack Fowler where Murat Karagul was on hand to turn and volley home off the cross bar.
It was just the start Ware needed but two minutes later they got something just as good with the biggest let-off of their season. A ball into the no-mans land just in front of their penalty area created mayhem. Darren Behcet took the decision to clear it as others looked on but he lost out to George Lataaya who then contrived to blast well over the gaping net.
But Lataaya (giving Junior Appiah a testing time) and Jason Hallet were a constant menace in this phase of the game although Appiah seemed to have the measure of his man as the game wore on. For now however Cheshunt were threatening and again mounted an attack which Fowler needed to clear for a corner before, twenty minutes in, a misplaced pass opened up the Ware defence. Luckily the visitors again contrived to waste their chance.
The half hour saw Price put through by Karagul only to lob the keeper and the outside fence but the front man did better as the half came to a close. Alaa Oujdi played the ball to him from where Price carried it along the by line before pulling it back to Karagul whose first time shot whistled over the intersection of bar and post.
Having clung on to their slender lead Ware's advantage was lost just five minutes into the second half. Hallet drove a free kick from distance under the Ware wall thereby giving Behcet no other option but to pick the ball out of the bottom corner of his net and then complain to his defenders.
There was every reason at this stage to think that Ware might now be in trouble but that was not to account for a piece of excellent play by Josh Oyibo. Good work by Marcus Milner ended with the ball at Oyibo's feet out on the right. The Ware man seemed to have chosen the wrong option when he turned inside to where the Cheshunt defence was gathering. Driven out and along the edge of the area he waited for his moment as the crowd called for a shot. When it came May had no chance as the ball found the top left hand corner of his net.
It was 3-1 a few minutes later when Ahmed Mohammed openned his account for the club with another shot from the edge of the area, this time low and to May's right. There were still 25 minutes left but Haule's strike put the result beyond doubt and called to mind the celebrations that greeted Chris Ellerbeck's goal against Tonbridge Angels in the FA Cup run of nearly ten years earlier.
Man of the match for me was Ryan Hervel who seems to have really found his form in the last few weeks, never more so than in his interceptions and calm distribution against Cheshunt.
Ware: Darren Behcet, Junior Appiah, Alaa Oujdi, Ryan Hervel, Jack Fowler, Lee White, Marcus Milner, Ahmed Mohammed, Gareth Price (Evandro Delgado 87mins), Josh Oyibo (Anthony Furlonge 90+2mins), Murat Karagul (Brian Haule 80mins). Unused subs: Jamie Smith, Tyrique Hyde.