Ware 2 Molesey 2
By Stephen King
Late goal goes someway to spare Ware's blushes but Molesey may think themselves unlucky not to have won.
The result was as disappointing as the performance as Ware struggled to put together a passing game against a side that had yet to gain a league point. Molesey on the other hand looked determined to wipe out that zero in their record and deserved to do so in a game that generally provided poor entertainment for the home supporters.
With new manager Paul Halsey unavailable for this game Jon Stevenson was in charge with former Ware players Michael Bardle and John Frendo in support. He will have a lot to tell his manager in the coming week as Ware prepare for an important FA Cup game next Saturday.
Also missing were Gareth Madden and Charlie Yexley, the latter likely to be out for at least two weeks with a hamstring, whilst Jordon Watson continues to be unavailable. Jack Daveney took Yexley's place at full back and did well but the absence of Madden as a strong ball winner in midfield may well have been a key problem for Ware.
As it was it looked for a while as though Ware might take a slender lead into the half time break but two goals in the final 15 minutes of the half, the last in added time, gave the score a more realistic look.
Ware had struggled to impose themselves on a Molesey side who had given notice of their ambition as early as the first minute when they forced a corner. Two minutes later a defender's back header as Molesey pressed again put Harry Ricketts in trouble and he did well to clear though this time Ware hit back immediately and Callum Taylor shot low but into Sam Johnson-Freeman's grasp.
Ware continued to struggle until the twentieth minute when they won a free kick just inside their own half. With Joshua Adusei lucky to escape a yellow card for kicking the ball away perhaps Molesey's attention was taken away from play. At least Ware were awake and the kick lofted forward. There was Leigh Rose who seems always to be relied on to win headers under pressure nodding the ball down to Dave Cowley. The number eight turned Johnson-Freeman and scored comfortably from wide of the goal.
This might have been the cue for Ware to take control and certainly for a while the visitors' heads seemed to drop as they contemplated the possibility of another difficult match. Yet they pulled themselves together and within a little more than ten minutes were level. A Molesey free kick came in and Ricketts flapped at it ineffectually when it seemed he might have caught it. The clearance fell to Ibitayo Oyebola who was quickest to react and headed the ball down and in.
Now Molesey were back looking like the team that wanted to take control and on several occasions only an offside flag stood between them and a second goal. They got it in added time as they responded to a Ware attack with one of their own. Ricketts punched a shot back to the edge of his area but Oyebola followed up with his and his team's second goal as the ball seemed to take an age to find the net.
The second half started with Louis Bowen, injured in the first, substituted in favour of Ben Hart. Dominique Njoya moved into central defence and Alaa Oujdi, unable to have anything like the influence on the game he had the week before, dropped to left back.
Hart could now bring more width and guile to Ware's attacks down the right and whilst at times he was still left looking for the right amount of service from his colleagues, the home side did seem to be creating more problems for the Molesey defence.
Not that this meant the visitors weren't still dangerous going forward and on more than one occasion Ware were grateful to Ricketts as he came out to smother or deflect the ball in one on one situations. Albert Adu was also being forced to occupy much of his time pulling a few defensive irons out of the fire.
Just past the hour mark Harley Haag replaced Cowley seemingly to the latter's disappointment and the surprise of those in the crowd. But it was Hart who was beginning to have an influence and justifying his promotion from the bench and when he crossed on 70 minutes Taylor was inches away from an equaliser as he headed high under pressure.
Ware's equaliser came on 87 minutes after good work between Daveney and Hart. The latter's cross found Haag with enough time to turn and shoot low to Johnson-Freeman's right and in off a post.
There was still time and opportunity for either side to claim a winner with a Ware corner being headed just wide in added time. Had it gone in a victory would not have masked Ware's need to improve as tougher games are in the offing, not least the visit of Lowestoft in the FA Cup.
Ware: Harry Ricketts, Jack Daveney, Dominique Njoya, Kardan Campbell (Lauric Diakiesse 78mins), Bradley Fraser, Louis Bowen (Ben Hart 45mins), Leigh Rose, Dave Cowley (Harley Haag 63mins), Callum Taylor, Albert Adu, Alaa Oujdi. Unused subs: Vlantislav Gkontsarov, Billy Baird.