Hayes & Yeading United 1 Ware 0
By Stephen King
United edge a close and exciting game.
This game pitted the highest scoring club in the top eight levels of English football against the third highest scorers in Isthmian South Central. A high scoring contest might have been expected but in the end defences were on top and the game was settled by a single deflected goal from Josh Chamberlain in the second half.
Ware made only one change from the previous week's starting line up with Harry Norman returning at right back following Charlie Yexley's injury in the game with Westfield. Ben Hart was back on the bench after recovery from his injury and also on the bench for the second time was Andrew Bennett, one of the youngest members of our Under-18 side. He didn't get on but his appearance in the squad was a nod to the future.
On an atypical February afternoon most supporters forsook the large main stand to watch from ground level in the warm sunshine. What they saw was a close game in which, for much of the first half at least, Ware enjoyed the better of the exchanges.
Blues came out of the traps quickly, closing down their opponents whenever they had the ball. As a result Ware were doing most of the pressing and they forced the first of four first half corners after seven minutes.
And once they had the ball Ware played good possession football, controlling the game and denying Hayes much opportunity to get into it. The home side's best hope seemed to lie in Chidubem Onokwai who has seventeen goals this season with various clubs. He had already faced Ware whilst playing for Marlow and then FC Romania before this game. As in those other games he was destined to come away from this one goalless and was substituted in the second half.
If Onokwai was the Hayes front man then Kunle Otudeko emerged as a dangerous runner from midfield and put the Ware defence under some pressure towards the end of the half. Like Onokwai however his game was run in the second half and he too was taken off as Hayes searched for the right combination to make an impact on the visitors.
Meanwhile Ware continued to worry at the Hayes defence forcing them to play deep despite the loud urgings from their bench. These grew louder when they were pressured into mistakes; conceding a corner, a throw in or possession. Ware, however, were unable to make the most of these opportunities and paid for it in the second half.
The best of those chances came in the final ten minutes of the half. First Frazer John picked up a half clearance from a Dave Cowley cross to fire the ball back at goal from inside the area only for it to strike a defender and bounce clear. Then Cowley's free kick just before the break from near the corner of the penalty area rapped the top of the Hayes bar.
Hayes were more dangerous in the second half with Onokwai stirring the crowd as he broke through before he was denied by a tackle and later Scott Bridges shooting wide from a good position. Calum Kitscha was then required to turn Josh Chamberlain's shot round the post.
It was the home side's first corner of the game but it proved decisive as Kitscha's punch clear fell to George Bennett. He had only come off the bench three minutes earlier and his fresh feet returned a low shot. At first sight it appeared to be deflected into the roof of the net by a prone Ware defender but the deflection was later attributed to Chamberlain. Either way it was a frustrating way to determine the outcome of a keenly contested match.
Both sides had further chances before the end but the score stood allowing Hayes to maintain their 100% home record whilst Ware's run of away league wins was ended on seven.
Ware: Calum Kitscha, Harry Norman, Williams Danquah, Tom Bruno, Louis Rose, Gareth Madden, Frazer John (Ben Hart 72mins), Leigh Rose, Brandon Adams (Tommy Wade 72mins), Albert Adu, Dave Cowley. Unused subs: Jack Daveney, Andrew Bennett, Anthony Page.