Ware 0 Grays Athletic 5
Ware left bewildered and a little punch drunk at the end of five goal drubbing.
On paper this game was something of a home banker and even though Ware never really got going past experience suggested they would be able to cling on tenaciously for at least a draw.
Maybe it was the absence of the suspended Murat Karagul and Alaa Oujdi but once Grays, who have struggled for much of the season, were in front it was they who showed the tenacity to cling on and eventually take the game well beyond the home side.
To be fair this was another of those games with a significant turning point when the match was still scoreless. Although the visitors were shading the proceedings the 27th minute saw Ware produce perhaps the best move up to that point which ended with Junior Appiah striking a post with his shot.
The ringing sound of ball on metal had hardly died down before Grays were on the attack. The ball was put across the Ware area where Prince Madu, in an effort to clear, steered it into his own net. Someone needed to have told him to let the ball go as there was no danger behind him but they didn't and it was Ware who were behind.
The game had barely restarted when Grays pressure brought them a free kick on the central edge of the Ware area. Sam Cross stood ready to take the kick and from behind it looked as though it only needed to be targeted accurately to score. It was and he did and in less than five minutes Ware had gone from a possible lead to two goals down. They never properly recovered.
Too many high balls had Yannick Kamanan being out jumped by the Grays defence and any nod-ons that he managed often found Appiah offside. Half time came with a sense of relief and the hope that Ware would regroup for a second half challenge.
For a while the challenge did seem to be coming especially after Ahmed Abdulla came on and started directing a few more low balls to his forwards as Ware started to mount more telling attacks. In this period Appiah was through on goal but went down under pressure from Grays' keeper Lamar Johnson with the referee waving away penalty appeals before a corner rattled Johnson's left post.
Any hopes that Ware had were effectively extinguished after 63 minutes however when Tim Monsheju, recently arrived at Grays from Witham and in the game from the subs bench, carried the ball forward, lost it in a tackle but then found it break back into his path. His shot from distance squirmed disappointingly through Tom Coulton's grasp to make it 3-0.
Ware did what they always do in these circumstances and changed things around with a final substitution before later sending Gareth Madden up front and pulling Kamanan back into midfield where he played the ball around to good effect.
Even so Kamanan was back in the Grays area on 78 minutes as a neat move saw Symeon Taylor release Appiah who squared it to the Frenchman. Kamanan's strong shot was however straight at Johnson.
Ware had not lost a league match by more than one goal this season and continued to look to reduce the deficit but on 83 minutes Kieran Bishop put that idea to sleep. The former Ware hero had already missed a couple of good chances but this time he turned in the area and drilled a fierce shot past Coulton.
That should have been the proper ending to the story of this match but even that wasn't possible. With two minutes of added time already past Monsheju benefitted from Ware's persistent optimism in pushing forward to score easily.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Garjay Thompson (Warren Kayembe 62mins), Prince Madu, Denzel Conteh, Gareth Madden, Lee White, Junior Appiah, Ahmed Mohammed (Ahmed Abdulla 50mins), Yannick Kamanan, Dean Mason (Symeon Taylor 76mins), Rheo Josephs. Unused subs: Finbarr Robins, Jahvanne Wilson.