Hertford Town 2 Ware 1
Defeat to the old enemy in game that failed to rise to the occasion.
At the end of the match Ware supporters were left to grumble about the referee and the gamesmanship of their opponents. They may have had a point with both Hertford goals owing something to one or the other but the reality was that in a game which neither team dominated the home side took two of the chances to come their way whilst Ware could take only one.
It was an illustration that games which might otherwise have been drawn can often turn on one side's ability to make the most of circumstance. So it was that a Ware attack on the half hour was halted by the referee with Hertford's Jay Lovell clutching his head and screaming after what seemed a routine challenge. The restart was with an uncontested dropped ball which former Ware man Michael Toner blasted deep into the Ware half to finally negate any advantage that the visitors had made.
Although his clearance went out for a Ware throw the visitors lost possession on their right where Ricky Light started on a long run across the pitch towards Ware's left corner post. He was seemingly going nowhere but found time for a cross that was cleared to Brett O'Connor whose shot from distance was perfectly judged to elude Tom Coulton's dive for the opening goal.
The game had started with Hertford applying pressure and on ten minutes Tom Coulton needed to get down well to smother Tommy Wade's close range shot. But Ware came back and Yannick Kamanan turned provider with a cross that probably needed him to be in the Hertford area to convert it. Three minutes later he was in the area and side footing a loose ball wide on the volley.
Next it was Rheo Josephs running down the left before crossing. The ball was headed away but only as far as Marcus Milner whose first time shot was high. Josephs supplied Milner again moments later and this time his glancing header was just wide before Kamanan's free kick on 26 minutes out on the right went narrowly over.
This period ended with O'Connor's goal. It was well taken but the circumstances of the build up had their effect on Ware's play for much of the rest of the half and the game took on a different complexion. As Ware's performance visibly dropped, Hertford continued to look dangerous especially from Lovell's long throws whilst balls forward to Kamanan mostly found the Frenchman with a defender's elbow in his back as he jumped to receive them.
The number nine was receiving a lot of attention from the home defence and eventually Mr Crofts brought his yellow card out for Wade. The ironic cheers from Ware supporters had hardly died away however when the referee did the same to Finbarr Robins for a wild tackle.
With normal time almost over Murat Karagul drove the ball along the goal line and into the home side's six yard area but Hertford cleared the danger and the half, lengthened by several stoppages, ended with Ware winning a corner but unable to take it as Mr Crofts whistled for his half time tea.
In compensation the second half started with Ware forcing two corners in quick succession and for a while it looked as though they were taking control, moving the ball around well to mount several attacks.
But the game turned on the hour with a Hertford attack down their right. As Lee White came across to cover O'Connor's surge into the area the Hertford man's centre hit his arm. The referee didn't hesitate to point to the spot. It was unlucky and maybe harsh with not much more than a metre between the two players and White having no chance to get out of the way but Toner had no sympathy as he blasted the penalty home for 2-0.
The game, never a great advert for non-league football, became even less of a spectacle as Ware again subsided under the weight of their apparent misfortune. Hertford were content to hold on to what they had and play for time where possible whilst looking for breaks when Ware pushed forward.
Ware were finding few good openings in the circumstances and introduced two substitutes whilst also switching their two full backs to try to inject something new into their play. They eventually got their reward on 81 minutes when a cross from the left was nodded on by Elliott Charles and in the scramble in front of goal the ball fell to Karagul who scored for the second game running.
Lovell lay on the ball in the back of the net to delay a quick restart and in the resulting kerfuffle earned himself and Karagul a yellow card. Charlie Mann was also yellow carded in the same incident; the fifth caution his side was handed.
It might have been six but Bond, kicking the ball away after an earlier free kick in an attempt at time wasting, escaped what would have been his second yellow thanks to the leniency of the referee and Ware's desire to take the kick quickly. He was substituted later, probably for his own good.
Hopes that Ware might drive on for what would surely have been a deserved equaliser never fully materialised and there were a couple of times when it might have been worse for them as Hertford broke out of defence.
On one occasion Junior Appiah was left to deal with four attackers whilst Tom Coulton brought off a great one-handed save to turn the ball away from another attack.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Junior Appiah, Alaa Oujdi, Murat Karagul, Gareth Madden, Lee White, Marcus Milner, Finbarr Robins (Prince Madu 71mins), Yannick Kamanan, Elliott Charles, Rheo Josephs (Warren Kayembe 81mins). Unused subs: Oreoluwa Ogunleye, Marvin Hamilton, Bradley Kay.