Ware 3 Chipstead 3
By Stephen King
An entertaining afternoon simmers to boiling point as late goal rescues a point.
Ware were hoping to consolidate after the previous week's success and started with the same eleven that began at FC Romania but the visitors had other ideas, chasing and harrying the home side through much of the game. Matthew Warren was a threat down the Ware left and Ezekiel Bademosi seemed to win too many headers in the home area for comfort. This unsettled the Blues who were reduced firstly to desperate clearances at times and eventually to ten men as Bradley Fraser's mistimed tackle brought him a straight red.
That Ware clawed their way back into the game after Samuel Clayton's 10th minute long range free kick that dipped under the bar with Anthony Page clutching at thin air says something about the growing resilience in the side. But it took time as Chipstead kept up the pressure and almost extended their lead.
Ten minutes later they might have made it two when Ibitayo Oyebola was put through with only Page to beat. The keeper spread himself well and the ball was deflected for a corner. There was a similar outcome as Page later pushed a fierce shot away from goal.
Ware did put some good moves together at times and Ben Hart's corner saw Albert Adu head narrowly past the intersection of bar and post. But a free kick conceded by the visitors after 40 minutes some way outside their penalty area brought a break through. Dave Cowley drove the ball past the wall and beyond Callum Hodgson's dive for an equaliser.
Given the run of play home supporters would surely have been happy to go in level at half time but not Brandon Adams. Last week's hat trick hero had seemed to be struggling to keep his feet whenever he tried to turn away from defenders. With a minute to the break however he picked up the ball near the half way line and glided past a number of opponents. Forced wide in the area he checked, turned and drove the ball into the net to give Ware the lead.
It looked as though it might all be in vain because with two of the floodlight pylons refusing to shed any light the game was in danger of being abandoned. Enter an unsung hero in the shape of an electrician who set about the problem and ensured that the game would finish, albeit after a 20 minutes delay. Perhaps he should be awarded man of the match.
Ware were unable to make the most of the opportunity offered and Chipstead continued to work hard. Their reward came after 53 minutes when Sam Bell's cross from the right was headed back to Oyebola who drove it into the roof of the Ware net.
It was clearly not going to be an easy afternoon for the home side and it got harder ten minutes later. Fraser's tackle, low with no studs showing brought down Oyebola who appeared to fall over the defender's legs. It looked a yellow card offence to many but the referee drew out his red card, explaining later that Fraser's speed and the distance he had travelled to make the tackle were contributing factors in his decision.
Paul Halsey was pleased that his team came together in this adversity and didn't let their heads drop. They certainly started to apply more pressure and created sustained pressure through the final five minutes of normal time. Cowley and Adu were both close to scoring and there were numerous corners for the home side.
Then it all went wrong as a ball forward by Chipstead saw Page come out to the edge of his area. With Brett O'Connor tracking back the keeper first hesitated then froze and Bell nipped between the two to score into an empty net.
It looked all over for Ware but after six minutes of added time they earned a free kick in front of the Chipstead area. Cowley stepped up and if his kick lacked the direction of his first goal it had sufficient power to cannon off the wall and into the net before Hodgson could react.
The second half had witnessed an increasing deterioration in the relations between Adams and Chipstead's Dean Hamlin. The late equaliser saw Adams taunting the visitors' number four and the final whistle shortly after brought a breakdown as both sets of players tried to support or separate their colleagues. It was unseemly and unnecessary.
Ware: Anthony Page, Jack Daveney, Brett O'Connor, Josh Oyibo (Louis Rose 65mins), Gareth Madden, Bradley Fraser, Ben Hart (Jordon Watson 80mins), Leigh Rose (Frazer John 75mins), Brandon Adams, Albert Adu, Dave Cowley. Unused subs: Louis Blake, John Frendo.