Ware 1 Hertford Town 1
By Stephen King
Honours even on a night to gladden the heart.
This result was enough to put a stop to Ware's run of defeats but it was the sight of the youth teams training on the pitch (see picture) right up to 45 minutes before kick off that pointed the way to a brighter future. Additional income aside the artificial surface provides a focal point for the town and those young players and families who stayed for the match swelled the crowd to way beyond the official attendance.
What they saw was an entertaining and full blooded contest that Hertford seemed to be edging until Jason Beck nearly cut Ben Hart off at the ankles with a full speed, crunching tackle. The referee didn't even have to think about it and was already drawing a red card from his pocket as he approached the scene.
Hart got to his feet which, much to the surprise of many, were still there and fired the free kick from just outside the penalty area inches over the bar. Meanwhile Hertford regrouped and brought on Mark Twumasi for Keiran McCaffrey which was taken to mean they would now settle for a draw.
This did give Ware more opportunities and they started to play some good football in the Hertford half and might have got a winner with a bit more steadiness. But Hertford got their point and will feel that they might have got more but for playing with ten men for the last quarter of the game.
But Ware also had their problems, losing Dave Cowley as early as the tenth minute after he fell awkwardly in a tackle. Following treatment to his back he struggled on for a moment but pulled up again and after further treatment withdrew from the action much to his frustration.
Even in those ten minutes he had been linking well with Albert Adu and after good work had set Dominique Njoya free as early as the second minute. Njoya's cross into the box caused momentary trouble for the visiting defence but the ball was scrambled away.
That didn't set the tone of the half however and even before Cowley's departure Hertford had started to look dangerous leaving Ware reliant on breakaways to force a chance. One such saw Njoya fouled needlessly out on the Ware left and Hart lining up a free kick. In it came and there was Adu peeking out from a clutch of defenders to head home for the lead.
Hertford were subdued for a while after that but slowly pulled themselves back into contention with Charlie Ruff just over with a long range shot. It was Ruff again with ten minutes to half time when he released David Keenleyside. With the home defence hoping to see an offside flag the Hertford man was free and gave Harry Ricketts no chance for the equaliser.
The news at half time was that Ricketts had picked up a calf strain and it was soon clear in the second half that he was limping. This was almost Ware's undoing as first he dropped a cross and was lucky to see the ball go across the six yard area for a goal kick. Then just before the hour mark Ricketts was left one on one with Lutaaya and could do little about it. However, the number eleven's lob was cleared off the line by Bradley Foster.
It looked like being a difficult time for Ware but ten minutes later Adu broke from defence before laying the ball through to Hart. He pulled clear of a foul and with the referee playing an advantage made room for a shot. It was then that he was hit by the Beck express. The rest you know.
Oh, except that Harry Norman made a more than solid debut for Ware at right back. He looks like a good addition to the squad.
Ware: Harry Ricketts, Harry Norman, Dominique Njoya, Gareth Madden (Jack Daveney 78mins), Louis Rose, Bradley Fraser, Dave Cowley (Callum Taylor 16mins), Jason Brown, Leigh Rose, Albert Adu, Ben Hart. Unused subs: Billy Baird, Josh Oyibo, John Frendo.