Ware 1 Westfield 1
By Stephen King
Another close and entertaining game this time settled by two penalties.
This game lived up to expectations with both sides battling hard for supremacy. In the circumstances it would be harsh to deny Westfield their share of the spoils but Matt Steer's 83rd minute penalty that brought them level seemed almost farcical to many on both sides.
The ball had been cleared from any immediate danger in the Ware area and was heading towards the right touch line. Gareth Madden and Westfield's Gregory Hayden chased after it and came together whilst still in the area, their legs getting entangled. They both went down with the ball well out of immediate contention. It was, to say the least, a surprise when Mr Anastasiou pointed to the spot, evoking memories of the away game when Ware conceded a disputed penalty.
It had been a difficult afternoon for the officials with decisions mystifying and upsetting both sides at times. Westfield might well have taken issue with Ware's penalty on 74 minutes. Not that there was any doubt about the handball after a pass into the area was deflected up and onto an outstretched arm but the tackle that preceded the cross looked to have tested legitimacy and might have been punished on another day.
With the ball on the spot there appeared to be some dispute over who would take it. Dave Cowley, who usually takes the spot kicks, eventually stood aside to diminish any affect the delay might have on the taker and so Brandon Adams stepped up to give Gary Ross no chance.
There was no doubt about the two yellow cards that led to Westfield's Graeme Purdy leaving the field in the first minute of added time. He clattered into Calum Kitscha and having been given both a card for his earlier comments after the Ware penalty and then the benefit of the doubt for an earlier clash with the keeper the referee had had enough.
The sending off aside, this was an entertaining and good tempered game that was in the balance for most of the time, swaying from one team to the other. Ware hit a post once in each half with Albert Adu's overhead kick rebounding clear on 18 minutes and Adams shooting onto the Ross's left post in added time at the end of the game.
The rebound from this fell to Tommy Wade, introduced from the bench a few minutes before at the expense of Tom Bruno who had another good game, but his shot went wide.
Westfield also had their moments not least after 11 minutes when Aaron Watson got the better of Louis Rose with only Kitscha to beat but the keeper was out quickly to cut off the number ten's options and he too shot past the post. George Frith also had a chance when he burst into the Ware area to collect Watson's pass but lost the ball under his feet and scuffed his shot again under pressure from Kitscha.
Earlier Watson had chased down a long ball that others had given up hope for. His cross from the corner flag deserved to have a team mate waiting in the area but even without that it skimmed past the face of the Ware goal before going off for a goal kick.
For the home side Gareth Madden had a shot clear of the intersection of bar and post and then Adu was just short of steering home a free kick immediately before the half time break.
Ware made a slow start to the second half but gradually pulled themselves back into the game. Yet with Westfield playing a higher back line after the break Ware were too reliant on long balls over the defence rather than trying to work their way forward with passes.
Even so Adams had a shot just over on the hour and Leigh Rose's well judged centre saw Adu head at goal two minutes after Ware had taken the lead. At the other end Ware suffered another cross that went across the face of goal with Tinasha Nkoma unable to convert it.
Ware: Calum Kitscha, Charlie Yexley, Williams Danquah, Tom Bruno (Tommy Wade 87mins), Louis Rose, Gareth Madden, Frazer John (Jack Daveney 82mins), Leigh Rose, Brandon Adams, Albert Adu, Dave Cowley. Unused subs: Harry Norman, Bradley Fraser, Anthony Page.