Ware 2 Dereham Town 1
Ware pull further away from relegation worries as performances continue to improve.
There's never a good time to get food poisoning but John Dreyer's absence due to the complaint led him to miss one of his charges' best performances.
The establishment of a common tactical approach through the squad meant that despite the absence of Charlie Yexley, injured at Potters Bar on Tuesday, and the continued injuries of Anthony Furlonge, Louis Bowen and Murat Karagul Ware still put together a solid performance to take all three points from a side with play-off hopes.
Alaa Oujdi came in for Yexley but playing at right back rather than on the left. Despite the change it is a mark of the growing confidence in the squad that there was no loss of continuity in approach. The visitors were however fast on the break and in the eleventh minute fired a warning when a quick move into the Ware area was not dealt with, the final shot being fortuitously deflected for a corner.
By this time however Ware were already ahead. As early as the second minute Oujdi had dropped a cross from the right into the far corner of Dereham's six yard area. It was cleared but two minutes later Dave Cowley's free kick followed a similar trajectory. This time Bradley Fraser was on hand to head his first goal for Ware since October 2012.
Inspired by this Ware started to move the ball around well and some neat interchanges on the ground opened up the visiting defence. Approaching midway through the half one such move released Marcus Milner into the box. His shot hit a defender but Elliot Pride did well to adjust and get a hand to the ball and flap it away for a corner. It wasn't elegant but it was a good reaction save.
Near the half hour mark it was Jordon Watson's turn to break into the Dereham area but again it was Pride who denied Ware a second goal. His side immediately broke up field and it took a deflection for a corner to prevent the danger.
That perhaps summed up much of the first half with Dereham looking comfortable but just short of a performance to compete on equal terms. It was also another warning to Ware but one that wasn't heeded in the 41st minute. Another quick response to a Ware attack led to Ryan Crisp with the ball in the Ware area. He fired past Harry Voss to give the visitors an equaliser.
The second half started with Dereham trying to capitalise on their late sucker punch but with Ware working hard to close down their opponents they were mostly limited to long balls which gave the home defence time to cover. Even so things might have been different but for a fine save from Voss diving to the foot of his right hand post to keep out a stinging shot.
Mostly though it was Ware continuing to move the ball around well and challenging their opponents when they didn't have possession. This combination led to confusion in the visiting defence close to the hour mark as first one attempted clearance was screwed high in the air before a second attempt followed the same route. When the ball came down to Watson he laid it off but appeared to be fouled before doing so. Hopes of a penalty faded as the assistant flagged for offside.
Watson got his reward for that and another hardworking display with just over 15 minutes to go. More good work delivered the ball into the Dereham area but a clearance again failed to make it clear and hit a clutch of players allowing Watson to seize on it and blast home.
He might have made the game safe a little later but Pride was out quickly to deflect his shot for a corner and prevent Ware from reaching 10,000 goals in all games since 1892. At the other end it needed Voss to tip over a long range shot from Rhys Logan to keep Ware ahead and, as it turned out, complete a double over Dereham.
It has been a good run for Ware in recent games with just the recent defeat at Potters Bar to blemish their record. They have a chance to avenge that on Monday but a look at the weather forecast suggests they will need the same kind of effort from committee men and supporters that enabled this game to go ahead. If that doesn't work the Potters Bar game will be shifted to Harlow's all weather pitch on Tuesday evening.
Ware: Harry Voss, Alaa Oujdi, Dominique Njoya, Gareth Madden, Damien Green, Bradley Fraser, Marcus Milner, Josh Oyibo, Jordon Watson (Ivan Machado 90mins), Dave Cowley, Ace'a Laurent (Ross Elsom 66mins). Unused subs: Harley Haag, Finley Long, Anthony Furlonge.