Mildenhall Town 1 Ware 0
Ten men almost get a point but not the rub of the green.
The talking point of this game was the red card that was given and the one that was not. Two incidents that occurred on and shortly after the half hour mark changed the dynamic of the game.
The first saw Ahmed Abdulla advance to a cleared ball and cushion it on his chest. When he went to move forward his feet slipped from under him and as he stretched to reclaim the ball he slid again and his foot, studs up, connected with a defender. The fears that this might earn him a dismissal were answered quickly as the referee produced a red card from his pocket. The circumstances were harsh, the contact seemingly accidental but in the current regime the decision was not entirely unexpected.
Until that moment Ware had been playing some good football. There was a confidence about the team that allowed them to move the ball around well. This was demonstrated in the 13th minute when a five-man move ended with a pass lofted into the home area with Abdulla bearing down on Sam Roach in the home goal. Roach just reached the ball in time. Three minutes later Abdulla was at it again as he worked his way through the home defence before being stopped on the edge of the penalty area as he was about to shoot.
Even so the home side had their moments and on 19 minutes opened up the Ware defence only for Shaun Avis to shoot wide from a good position. But it was Ware again after 27 minutes when a cross from Junior Appiah was headed just wide by Yannick Kamanan.
After Abdulla's dismissal there was barely time to assess what impact it would have on the visitors before Mildenhall's Gareth Simpson launched himself into a more premeditated studs-up tackle of his own. As some wondered what the referee was going to do Matthew Green made his own contribution with a tackle which neutral observers who saw it (I missed it) thought was also deserving of a red card.
In the event Simpson received a yellow card and Green escaped punishment. The irony from Ware's point of view was that Green went on to be awarded "man of the match" for the home side.
In between those two events a cross from Alaa Oujdi to Yannick Kamanan saw the number nine shoot low at goal but the ball was gathered by Roach, the only save by either keeper in the first half.
The second had hardly begun when Finbarr Robins was penalised outside the area for an overenthusiastic attempt to head the ball which ended with former Ware man Jake Chambers-Shaw being flattened. Avis measured his shot well and from the low free kick found the left hand corner of Tom Coulton's net. Whether the wall or the keeper was to blame is not clear but it was a poor goal to concede.
Ware continued to plug away but the flowing football of the first thirty minutes was never again quite so apparent. That said the casual observer would have been surprised to learn that Ware were a man short as they continued to have a fair share of the game and with the introduction of Rheo Josephs mounted an additional threat. The final throw came in added time when Lee White headed just wide but the final whistle was just a minute away.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Junior Appiah (Anthony Furlonge 66mins), Alaa Oujdi, Ryan Hervel (Josh Oyibo 55mins), Gareth Madden, Lee White, Marcus Milner, Ahmed Abdulla, Yannick Kamanan, Finbarr Robins, Murat Karagul (Rheo Josephs 55mins). Unused subs: Prince Madu, Ahmed Mohammed.