After taking the Team photo I retired to the bar to cool down – Boy, was it hot out there on the pitch! I put my ears on and listened to some music while watching the Olympic events on the TV. Whilst I have enjoyed watching many of the different sports during the past three weeks, I didn’t want to get involved as I would have to tear myself away again in under an hour. I am, after all, on duty!
In the fullness of time Del showed up followed closely by Dave and Web Martin. A quorum of the regulars – the chat about the match could begin. I think we all look forward to playing Ware – It’s become an annual event in recent years and is usually fairly but strongly contested. The first half was very even although by half time some chinks were showing in the Ware defence and Anderson, Leon and Mark Henry had all gone close without stretching the Ware keeper or his net. Ware had some good breakaway attacks too, one of which was thwarted by a last ditch tackle by Danny Neils’.
We had to wait until 10 minutes into the second half before Marcus, having lured the keeper to the right of the area, found Anderson in the centre with a low pass for a simple tap-in. Marcus himself might have had one from the edge of the area but dragged his shot just wide as three defenders closed him down. Leon then had an attempt blocked by a defender from close range as he ran onto a through ball and subsequently felt that he might have had a penalty when he was tripped in the area a few minutes later but the linesman didn’t see it and the ref probably ruled it as six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. On the 70th minute, Anderson doubled his total with a run into the area and a well struck shot, low and to the keepers right to give the home side a 2 goal lead.
It being a friendly the ref then decided to offer the hand of friendship to Ware, awarding a penalty on the 75th minute after a collision in the box which it looked like the defender couldn’t do anything about. A bit harsh but we’d better get used to it because that’s in line with the sort of decisions that were given against us many times last season. A response was called for to regain a 2 goal cushion and Josh might have scored in the 80th minute with a speculative shot from the corner of the area but it took a deflection from a defender and struck the crossbar. Max had a good effort that scraped the top of the bar on the 86th minute but the goal wouldn’t come.
In a minute of injury time, the final seconds of the game, the ref awarded a second penalty to Ware – this time a fair shout for a trip. It was left to Ware’s Shane Wyllie to level the scores from the spot. A draw then and the only real positive we could take from it was that we scored our goals from open play.
Now a complaint to some of the younger players… A number of you (well one for certain) have had your hair removed prior to the match – this practise should cease forthwith as it makes it very difficult for me as cameraman to recognise who I’m photographing (especially as I’m still getting to grips with who some of you are in the first place!).
It’s that time in the year sadly when we learn of departures – indeed the whole of the non-league scene is about players moving around just before the new season kicks off. It was announced after the match that Ola, Ross and Max would be leaving us. I know we wish them all well for the future as they seek better playing opportunities elsewhere – nobody likes spending too much time on the bench or in the reserves. The departure of Ola is particularly sad as he is one of our own and we’ve watched him grow from a raw kid with ability into an intelligent skilful player who always gives the lot for the team when he’s on the pitch. In the closed season we’ve also lost Gary Burrell. Out for most of last season with a foot injury, he’s moved on just as he returns to full fitness – not sure if that’s a permanent move.
But as players go, so others come in. Jon Docker and Sam Berry have joined whilst Ajet returns from a season away in Kosovo. Now that is an issue for the cameraman – his Mum gets very upset when I don’t take a photo of him 😉 I dug this photo out of the archives from 2011’s friendly against Ware – there is Ola with Ajet defending as Murat (then a Ware player) looks to find a way into the box… Seemed a fitting way to close this post.