Ware 1 Canvey Island 5
Five goals in fifteen minutes undermine Ware's solid first half performance.
Canvey were big, strong and skilful but in the first half they failed to look the complete team. They were more individual than co-operative and although helped by Ware's willingness to give the ball away, often in dangerous circumstances, didn't capitalise. Instead shots went wide when a pass might have been more productive.
Meanwhile Ware were living dangerously at times but battling well. Charlie Yexley has returned to the side after a three year absence and did well at right back and his early raid down the middle was only ended by a foul that earned George Sykes a yellow card. A new starter was Tayo Coker, on loan from Harrow Borough, who never let anyone get the better of him. They completed a confident back four that coped well with what Canvey had to offer in the first half although the visitors will doubtless point to Coker's 39th minute tackle on Sykes. It looked a clear penalty to many in the crowd but Mr Marasca waved away the Gulls' appeals.
All this was played out in the context of Ware's early lead. Marcus Milner's 9th minute corner on the Ware left was laid short to Ross Elsom and his cross into the six yard box eluded all but Murat Karagul who rose to head home largely unchallenged. It all looked very easy at that point.
Ware kept looking for chances to increase their lead but as the half wore on it was Canvey who increasingly monopolised the possession and territory. There was real danger as Voss twice fumbled a corner before a follow up shot was cleared for a second corner. This too caused problems in defence with a double hit on the framework before a third attempt went high over the bar.
Even so Ware approached the half time break with the prospect of holding the lead but their hopes were dashed two minutes into added time when the ball bobbled across the Ware area and Sykes was on hand to fire into the net.
The hope was that Ware would not concede early in the second half but that too was a pipe dream as Mitchell Gilbey was set free down the middle after a Ware attack and with the home defence looking for an offside flag he had only Voss to beat. He made it look straight forward to give Canvey the lead.
Two goals in two minutes of play were enough to undermine Ware's hopes but worse was to follow as Canvey Island opened up the Ware defence. Maybe the change from the first half's 4-5-1 formation to 4-4-2 had something to do with the collapse but the loss of Coker to injury was also significant. The visitors also seemed to at least partially negate the role of Yexley and his captain Ahmed Abdulla neither of whom had as much influence as they had earlier.
Whatever the reason Ware were found unable to cope with the visiting forwards. A chance to draw level went away after Karagul was free in the Canvey area but his first touch let him down and almost immediately the visitors were back in the home area. As Coker slipped trying to get his tackle in Sykes went down and this time the referee had no option but to award the spot kick. Ryan Melaugh showed how to take a penalty to give the visitors what looked like being an unassailable lead on 51 minutes.
Further goals followed on 55 minutes when a corner was helped over the line by Steve Sheehan as the Ware defence seemed rooted to the ground and on 61 minutes with Ryan Melaugh's stunning first time shot from distance when he met a clearance out of defence.
It had taken a quarter of an hour to completely turn the game round and out of Ware's grasp. There were other chances for the Gulls, especially as Ware kept pushing forward for a second goal leaving gaps at the back meaning that when the final whistle came it was something of a relief.
With Ware left second from bottom, John Dreyer must now realise the task that is in front of him as he seeks to preserve Ware's place at Step 4. The next test comes on Wednesday when the Blues travel to Romford in a crucial fixture.
Ware: Harry Voss, Charlie Yexley, Alaa Oujdi, Ahmed Abdulla, Damien Green, Tayo Coker (Andrew Tirivanhu 52mins), Marcus Milner, Ross Elsom (Necati Gench 52mins), Yannick Kamanan, Ace'a Laurent, Murat Karagul. Unused subs: Louis Yuill, Harry Watkins.