Tooting & Mitcham United 1 Ware 1
By Stephen King
Disappointing game has goals at start and finish but not a lot in between.
Ware ended the Terrors' winning run but there was not a lot of other cause for celebration. They surely should have won the game but in the end might easily have lost it. The home side will doubtless support the latter view after they pushed hard to get something out of the game despite being a man down for much of the match.
Blues took a first minute lead after Dominique Njoya's cross found Albert Adu in the six yard area. With the crowd still finding their seats in the stand Luke Colquhoun in the home goal might have thought that was where his defenders were. Even with the space afforded by absent defenders Adu still had to put the ball away but his side footed volley gave Colquhoun no chance.
United's response was not as immediate as expected, perhaps they were suffering from shock at the early goal, and when their captain was sent off after fifteen minutes it seemed that the game was in Ware's pocket. The build up to the incident was difficult to determine but there was no doubt that Sol Patterson-Bohner punched Leigh Rose in front of the referee so off he went.
Ware might have been expected to push on from this point but seemed content to let the home side make the running. And running it was with a set of speedy forwards constantly testing them at the back and even when they lost the ball closing the visitors' defence down quickly to win the ball back. Keeping pace with the attackers was not easy and some of the tackles looked a bit desperate at times leaving Ware with two yellow cards by half time.
When Ware did keep possession at the back their main tactic appeared to be an uninspiring long ball for Louis Blake to chase but he was well marshalled by the home defence who were faster and able to win headers despite Blake's height. When Ware kept the ball on the ground it could be different and just past the half hour Adu's good through ball saw Blake bear down on goal before he shot wide.
In reality neither side troubled the keepers much and the half time whistle brought the expectation that there would be changes in both teams come the restart. Despite missing Jason Brown, Ware had a strong bench and it looked as though Jordon Watson would be a better bet than Blake if the long ball approach was to continue.
Watson did come on but to replace Louis Rose who had been playing with a suspected broken toe so nothing much changed in Ware's game beyond being a defender short. Blake was having more luck winning balls lofted up to him but all he could do was flick them on into empty space. It all seemed a bit meaningless.
Ware's best and perhaps only good move of the second half came on 47 minutes when Leigh Rose brought the ball forward past a number of opponents before feeding it through to Blake but the big man shot wide again. But for much of the half United continued to look for a way into the game and it was becoming harder to say that they didn't deserve to find it.
Their task was made easier with just over 15 minutes to go. Harry Norman ran to intercept Isaiah Jones' run down the left, they met at 90 degrees to each other with Norman blocking Jones off. United's man went to the ground and with the referee indicating a foul there was concern that Norman might pick up a yellow card. In fact the referee deemed red appropriate and concern shifted to Jones who looked in a bad way, ultimately being stretchered from the field.
With the sides now equal it looked as though United must surely make a break through but Ware survived until the 89th minute before they conceded a penalty. Bradley Fraser came together with an attacker and although both went down the referee pointed to the spot. Peter Wedgeworth took the kick but his shot was well saved by Page who turned the ball away for a corner and it looked as though Ware might still hold out.
Well into the five added minutes at the end of the game another home attack seemed to end when two forwards closed with Josh Oyibo who went down under their pressure. However the referee blew for a free kick to United on the edge of the Ware area and this time Wedgeworth made no mistake, firing over the wall and into the net for the equaliser.
Ware: Anthony Page, Harry Norman, Dominique Njoya, Josh Oyibo (Kardan Campbell 90mins), Louis Rose, (Jordon Watson 45mins), Bradley Fraser, Gareth Madden, Leigh Rose, Louis Blake (Charlie Yexley 75mins), Albert Adu, Alaa Oujdi. Unused subs: John Frendo, Dave Cowley.