Tommy To The Rescue
A late comeback saw Blues snatch an unlikely draw writes The Mariner
Tommy Wade grabbed a brace to salvage a point for Blues, in a game that only sparked into life in the final 15 minutes. It was in stark contrast to what had gone before, especially after a lack lustre first period, which provided little in the way of excitement for fans of both teams. Ware who had established a two goal advantage in the second half, looked to be in control of proceedings, until a late Blues charge saw Wade produce the goods. Blues had looked strangely lethargic, which was surprising given their two week lay off. They never really got into their rhythm, lacking the intensity of previous weeks. That was until the final dramatic minutes when they suddenly burst into life. Nevertheless, the draw maintained their unbeaten run, extending it to six games leaving them comfortably in a mid table berth.
Blues shaded possession in the opening minutes, winning an early free kick comfortably saved by Harry Voss . As the half progressed, it became more of an even contest, although not one to stir the fans , with play becoming confined to the middle of the park.
It was Ware who engineered the first clear opportunity, when Jordan Watson broke free, only to be denied by Ryan Mahal,stealing the ball away and cleared the danger. It was Mahal who then provided an opportunity for Richard Halle, who nodded over a cross from the full back. A period of Blues pressure ensued with Ade Cole trying his luck. First with a shot that lacked venom comfortably saved by Voss, he followed up with a rasping dive from 30 yards that Voss did well to beat away from danger. In contrast , Lamar Johnson was rarely inconvenienced, despite Ware mounting a number of forays.
Excitement was in short supply by this stage, neither side playing with the verve needed to gain the upper hand and make a decisive breakthrough. What was required was that final incisive pass to dissect a defence to create a goalscoring chance. Blues did win a number of corners, but failed to capitalise. A cross found Dennis Oli who nodded over and Kieran Bishop benefited from a misplaced clearance sending in a rasping drive causing Voss some consternation when he could only parry the ball, seeing it scrambled to safety.
The final and only clear cut chance of the half fell to Ware, when Leigh Rose stole in behind Mahal and lobbed the advancing Johnson, beating the keeper but not the crossbar.
After a turgid first half, the opening two minutes of the second was in complete contrast, but not the opening Blues fans would have hoped for. Ware full back Charlie Yexley played a speculative ball forward, which should have been dealt with comfortably by Blues defenders, but hesitation and confusion ensued between Finneran and Johnson, Watson nipped in and shaped to shoot, only to be hauled back by the keeper, resulting in a clear penalty duly dispatched by Watson.
Clearly buoyed by the goal Ware started to dominate play, one flowing move cut through Blues, with nimble one twos presenting Watson with a golden opportunity to double the visitors advantage, but he fired wildly over. For a time Ware had their hosts chasing shadows with some neat and constructive one touch football, alarmingly getting round the back of the Blues back line and creating a number of opportunities.
Manager Jamie Stuart decided to ring the changes and replaced the tiring Oli with Glenn Poole and a little later Barry Cogan. The veterans influence stirred Blues from their stupor. James Folkes and Joao Carlos enjoyed success down the left channel, causing Yexley some consternation. Carlos it was, who went close from a Bishop cross. A free kick found the head of Michael Finneran. who thought he had scored, only to see his header cleared off the line. Bishop was next with a glancing header.
It seemed it was not going to be Blues day as the ball would just not fall for them and in the 76th minute their task became that much harder when Ware added a second. Awarded what looked a soft free kick outside the area, ex Blue Dave Cowley stepped up and fired past Johnson, with the help of a slight deflection wrong footing the keeper.
The setback did not stop a succession of Blues attacks, but they lacked that final killer pass and with just ten minutes remaining on the clock it looked like it was going to be a first defeat in six games, but then it all changed in a frantic finale. Bishop, not for the first time was denied, but then in the 82nd minute came the breakthrough. A raid down the right saw Mahal sling over a cross, which saw Wade muscularly bundle the ball past Voss to cut the deficit. Just a minute later Blues were level, another great run saw Muguo deliver a perfect ball into the prowling Wade, who volleyed home to bring about a great comeback.
The final few minutes was a frantic affair with both teams searching for a winner, but despite some close shaves neither goal was breached, leaving Ware wondering how they let a two goal advantage slip so close to victory and Blues breathing a sigh of relief and grateful to secure a point that looked so unlikely with ten minutes remaining.
Unbeaten in March, Blues now face a hectic schedule in the coming week with three local derbies, Brentwood away on Thursday, followed by Barking at Parkside on Saturday and then a short trip to Ship Lane to face this seasons nemesis Romford.
Johnson, Mahal, Folkes, Finnegan (Bruce 69), Halle, Oli (Poole 58),Muguo, Cole (Cogan 75) , Carlos, Bishop, Wade.
Subs not used:Simmonds,Thompson
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