Ware 2 Northwood 3
By Stephen King
Thoroughly entertaining game sees Ware lose at the last.
Whether it is the new playing surface or just the quality of football in the division but it is rare to see a game at Wodson Park that isn't highly competitive. This was an excellent example as two well-matched sides fought for the points in front of a crowd that became heavily engaged with the ebb and flow of play.
The great atmosphere was fostered by Ware's second half revival which saw them claw back a two goal deficit only to concede victory to a 90th minute own goal. Until then Ware's recovery had put them in the driving seat and perhaps the more likely to snatch a winner but in truth a draw had looked the fairest and most likely outcome.
As it was Anthony Page's short clearance went straight to an opponent, wrong footing his defenders who struggled to get back. Although the immediate danger was contained Northwood retained possession and a cross from the right found Gareth Madden stretching to cut out the danger. Instead he was only able to direct the ball into the net for the deciding goal.
From the evidence of the first half the outcome might have been expected. Both teams worked hard in their own way but Northwood had the edge. At the back the tall Imran Uche and keeper Luke Sheldrick were kept busy in a routine sort of way dealing with Ware's persistent tactic of high crosses into the box. Countless times one or the other of them rose to head or catch the ball.
This enabled the visitors to mount quick breaks with Conrad Lucan and recent signing Tremayne Charles skilfully exploiting their speed. Ware seemed to have no answer to this and conceded twice in the opening 25 minutes.
The first after 11 minutes saw Daniel Pett break through an admittedly depleted defence with Louis Rose off for treatment. Ignoring offside claims Pett rounded Page to score from wide. The second came from another break. Tremayne was forced inside but, evading challenges, he cut across the pitch until the opportunity arose to release Lucan who scored low past Page.
Ware's best chance had been from a Ben Hart corner delivered at head height to Albert Adu who steered the ball just wide. It was a hint at how to get through the Northwood defence, a hint not taken before half time nor initially after the break when the game continued much as before.
Paul Halsey had made no changes to his side at half time and there was no discernible change in tactics but Ware, kicking towards the home end, started to get on top. There were periods when the ball hardly left the visitors half but Ware still couldn't break through.
This changed midway through the half when Ben Hart's corner was driven low into the area. The ball finally reached Brandon Adams who turned to score his tenth goal since joining Ware. Three minutes later it was all square after Dave Cowley's cross was headed home by Adu.
Cowley was involved again, first being given offside surely by millimetres when receiving out on the left wing, then when his cross rolled in front of goal with Adams just unable to make contact and finally when he put the ball in the net only to be given offside again just ten minutes before Northwood's winner.
Interestingly Ware's revival was made by the same eleven players upping their game from the first half, Halsey deciding not to make use of any substitutes. These included Andrew Bennett a sixteen year-old from the Under-18 side, emphasising the potential that could be mined from the highly successful youth section at the club.
Ware: Anthony Page, Charlie Yexley, Alaa Oujdi, Kardan Campbell, Louis Rose, Gareth Madden, Ben Hart, Jack Daveney, Brandon Adams, Albert Adu, Dave Cowley. Unused subs: Frazer John, Williams Danquah, Bradley Fraser, Michael Bardle, Andrew Bennett.