Witham Town 0 Ware 1
By Stephen King
Another win and clean sheet plus a bit of family history as Ware rise to 20th in the table.
A balmy summer basking in the expectation of another season at Step 4 may still be a long way off but a first Swallow was sighted at Witham as Ware worked hard for their three points. There are the signs of a good team ethic developing and this, counter intuitively, has allowed individuals to blossom, not least among these is current captain Ahmed Abdulla who seems to be fulfilling the promise that came with him at the start of the season.
But this was not a classic contest as both sides battled the elements as much as each other with early exchanges fairly even as the players tried to come to terms with a strong wind blowing down the pitch.
On 18 minutes however a Witham attack saw Charlie Yexley running across the edge of the Ware area to intercept a pass. He slipped to the ground and an opponent, closing in to take advantage, tripped over the prone full back. The referee saw something more however and awarded a free kick to Witham and booked the Ware man to the bemusement of most in the ground.
The free kick was hammered wide in what was a prelude to the rest of the half. Witham, with the wind at their back, started to dominate territory with Ware happy to concede ground. But the home side made little use of the chances this produced, wasting a lot of possession with over hit balls and wayward shooting.
Near the end of the half, both teams had chances with Yannick Kamanan's shot spilling out of Bobby Mason's grasp and Daniel Olusemo's follow up being deflected to safety. At the other end Shamido Pedulu's shot then grazed the top of Ware's bar though Tom Coulton, back in for the injured Harry Voss, had it covered.
After the break Ware did cope somewhat better than the home side had done once the wind was at their backs but Witham were still causing problems with their long balls forward no longer outrunning the intended recipient as often as in the first half.
Ware were having their own moments too with Abdulla's run forward taking him past several opponents as the home defence was cut open. Twice the same player was involved in neat inter-passing with colleagues as Ware endeavoured to keep the ball low and under control. The second of these saw Abdulla and Ross Elsom in a one-two before Yexley was released and fired his curling shot just over the bar.
It was still anyone's game and when time started to run out the tempo began to rise as both sides sensed the possibility of a deciding goal. It was to be Ware's with five minutes of normal time left. Abdulla's well judged pass to the left found Harley Haag, only three minutes off the substitutes' bench, who cut in and released a goal-bound shot that was deflected into the roof of the net off Witham's Lance Akins.
Haag's winner leaves Ware ten short of 10,000 first team goals since 1892. It also came a little over 16 years since his father scored both goals in Ware's 2-0 win at Witham in the old Isthmian League Division Three.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Charlie Yexley, Dominique Njoya, Ahmed Abdulla, Damien Green, Louis Bowen, Ross Elsom, Tayo Coker (Ace'a Laurent 80mins), Yannick Kamanan, Daniel Olusemo (Harley Haag 82mins), Marcus Milner. Unused subs: Finley Long, Necati Gench, Gareth Madden.