Ware 3 Staines Town 3
By Stephen King
Points shared in season opener.
Conceding an equaliser on 92 minutes is always hard to stomach but on the run of play a draw seemed a fair result. In fact Staines could have had the game sown up by half time as their determination at the back, plus speed and skill going forward gave them a noticeable edge.
Yet although conceding mid way through the half Ware somehow stayed in the game and equalised just before the break. They might well have gone on to win the three points with a much improved second half performance but the fates intervened to ensure justice over the ninety minutes was done.
Anthony Gale's side seemed determined to take control in the first half during which their young and skilful players were beating Ware to the ball and running the show. In particular Che Krabbendam seemed to be on good form as he raided down the left.
He might have scored on the half hour when his fierce shot from outside the area brought a good save out of Charlie Crowley who palmed it away to his right for a corner. That may well have been a turning point in the game for by that time Ware were already a goal down. A second goal would surely have finished them.
Five minutes earlier the home defence had been split by a good through ball that released Mahrez Bettachi. Despite Bradley Fraser bearing down fast on the Staines number ten he kept his cool and drove the ball beyond Crowley's dive.
Crowley was on hand again with a double save on 42 minutes. The clearance reached Liam Hope and as he outpaced a defender he lifted the ball over the advancing Denzel Gerrar but under the bar to level the scores.
The second half found Ware looking much better and five minutes in Tom Bruno turned to volley from outside the area and just beyond the intersection of post and bar. With this encouragement Ware started to play a good passing game that carried the game to Staines in a way that had been missing before the break.
Yet as Ware looked to be taking a degree of control it was the visitors who went back into the lead on the hour. Rhys Paul rose from a crowded area to head home from a corner.
Ware didn't lose their focus however and were level within five minutes. A ball forward found Olu Akinsanya in a tussle for control with the visiting defence. His determination allowed him to stab the ball forward with sufficient power to take it past a wrong footed Gerrar and into the net from distance.
Another five minutes saw the introduction of youth player Andrew Bennett who had just one substitute appearance for the Blues to his name. It was his run into the Staines box on 74 minutes that prompted a defender to pull him back leaving the referee to point to the penalty spot. Hope converted comfortably to double his tally and give Ware the lead for the first time.
It looked as though they would hang on for the points with Tom Bruno running things and looking like the midfield general it was hoped he would be. That said, a yellow card early in the first half might have been doubled in the second when he questioned the referee a little too robustly. You don't get to be man of the match if you don't stay on the pitch.
But Staines were not out of things and Ware survived a scare when a "goal" was ruled out for offside. However, two minutes into added time with most Ware supporters hoping desperately for the final whistle, the visitors claimed a point when Andrew Demby's well struck shot from the left found the net.
Another engrossing game on the Wodson Park surface surely did enough to entice the complimentary ticket holders who swelled the crowd beyond its official attendance to come again.
Ware: Charlie Crowley, Dajour Buffonge (Andrew Bennett 70mins), Patrick Adamson, Bradley Fraser, Gareth Madden, Harry Norman, Jason Brown, Tom Bruno, Liam Hope, Olu Akinsanya, Kardan Campbell (Williams Danquah 79mins). Unused subs: Tobi Adenkunle, Imani Matthews, Reece Crowter.