Ware 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round 18 September 2021
Match Report by Allan Mitchell
There are lots of clichés applied in football, and we have to apply a bunch of them here as ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ was very much in evidence in this ‘game of two halves' at Ware FC’s Woodson Park Stadium.
Another cliché is that Ware came into the game sitting in third place in their division (two levels below their visitors) whilst Hemel were sitting without a win and bottom of the National League South, so it was very much a ‘potential banana skin’ for the Tudors.
A very strong Hemel side took the field with manager Lee Bircham welcoming back Chris Paul to the fray in midfield and giving a debut to ex-Wolves and Kilmarnock player Aaron Simpson at left-back.
Also starting was Freddie Hinds to give them a much-needed boost upfront.
The Tudors started superbly, and they threatened to take Ware apart in the first 20 minutes of the game. Some confident and slick passing, orchestrated by the experienced midfield of Sam Mantom, Samir Carruthers and Chris Paul, saw them take a 2–0 lead before there were ten minutes on the clock.
A superb cross-field pass from Mantom found an advancing Gus Scott-Morriss on the right; he controlled the pass and slipped inside the full-back before planting the ball into the bottom corner to give Hemel the best possible start on just 4 minutes.
Another slick passing move cut Ware’s defence apart on 9 minutes saw Dobson race clear down the left and pick out the lively Freddie Hinds, who tucked the ball into the opposite corner to put the Tudors in control.
Hinds was causing Ware lots of problems with his pace and movement. He was on the end of some robust attention from their central defenders, with the experienced Louis Rose and Leigh Rose being particularly keen on letting the Hemel forward know they were around. It was a strong challenge that led to him leaving the field after suffering a dead leg after just 18 minutes.
Youngster George Devine came on to replace him, and the ‘Rose’ brothers well shackled him, so it was a case of problem solved for the Ware pairing.
Despite this setback, Hemel continued to dominate the first period, and the home side had to thank their keeper Brad Robinson for keeping them in the game with some great blocking with his legs; one, in particular, saw him stop a goal-bound effort from Cole Kpekawa that would surely have been game over just before the break.
Ware came out in the second half looking to try and impose themselves on Hemel with a more physical approach, but they didn’t threaten too much upfront, and it looked as though it was simply a case of seeing the game out for the Tudors.
Indeed Hemel looked the more likely to add to their tally. Still, Robinson continued to defy the visitors, saving from Devine and substitute Stephen Gleeson, both times stopping shots with his legs, and this seemed to lift Ware and the home supporters.
Hemel had to replace Chris Paul and Simpson as the clock ticked down, and a reshuffle at the back gave Ware the opportunity they needed.
A sloppily conceded corner was sent to the back post, where an unmarked Louis Rose had time to loop his header over Bilboe and into the far corner to reduce the deficit with 20 minutes left. Another cliché as it became a case of ‘backs against the wall’ as the home crowd roared their team forward.
Hemel had a chance to silence them when another clinical tackle gave Carruthers a chance with a free kick on the edge of the box in the 82nd minute. He curled it superbly over the wall only to see Robinson get a fingertip to it, pushing it onto the post to keep the game alive.
There was a huge shout for a penalty with the clock ticking down when Carruthers was clearly tripped as he cut into the box, but the referee waved away Hemel’s appeals.
Then in the final minute, Ware forced their way down the left, and substitute Liam Dulson was given too much room at the back post, and he planted his header past Bilboe to level the tie, to huge scenes of joy from the Ware players and supporters.
After completely controlling the game for long periods, especially in the first period, Hemel will be hugely disappointed not to have seen the game out. Still, credit has to go to Ware for their spirited second-half display, which earned them a replay at Vauxhall Road on Tuesday evening.
Hemel: Laurence Bilboe, Gus Scott-Morriss, Aaron Simpson (Nathan Cooper), Chris Paul (Stephen Gleeson), Cole Kpekawa, James Kaloczi, Samir Carruthers, Sam Mantom © Freddie Hinds (George Devine) Jonathan Lacey, James Dobson. Subs not used: Morgan-Griffiths, Castiglione, Hayes, Cerulli.
Tudors Man of the Match: Sam Mantom.