Goals from West and Bunce ensured a 2-0 win for 10-man Grays at Rush Green on Saturday.
An early strike by Jack West and a late free-kick by Danny Bunce, separated by a straight red card for Daniel Subuola, saw Grays continue to cement a play-off place and try and keep pace with Maldon at the top of the league table.
Grays took the lead in the 9th minute as a long ball over the top of the Ware defence was collected by Joao Carlos on the left wing. As he attacked into the area, Rhys Madden in the Ware goal came out to narrow the angle, but Carlos kept calm and played the ball across the face of goal where Jack West came sliding in to fire the ball into the net.
The home side almost doubled their lead in the 24th minute as Jeff Hammond, still recovering from almost having his kneecap removed by a sliding tackle from Ware’s John Stevenson, chased down a ball over the top to run through on goal. His shot was heading for the corner of the net until Madden saved well.
Grays continued to control the game and almost scored again on the half-hour mark as a free kick from the right was swung into the area by Danny Bunce. Joao Carlos peeled away at the back post to find space but his header went narrowly over the bar.
Grays momentum was abruptly halted in the 41st minute as Daniel Subuola received a straight red card. Referee Benjamin Furneaux deemed the sliding tackle to be two footed and dangerous, brandishing the red card without a second’s hesitation. Moving on…
After the interval, it was Grays who still looked most likely to score.
In the 55th minute a deep cross from the left by Danny Bunce found Joao Carlos flying in at the back post, but his goal bound header was well saved by Madden to keep the away side in the game.
Ware’s first effort on goal came in the 56th minute as Elliott King fired towards goal from the edge of the box, but George Kamurasi expertly tipped the ball over the bar for a corner, which came to nothing.
The away side should have equalised on the hour mark as Nathan Hilaire crossed from the left to find substitute Tyler Christian-Law unmarked at the back post but his shot from close range hit the outside of the post.
Grays responded by pushing forward again and forcing a corner in the 69th minute. Junior Baker found space in the area but his header hit the base of the post and went out for a goal kick.
With five minutes remaining, Grays put the result beyond doubt by doubling their lead.
Carlos collected the ball on the halfway line before weaving his way to the edge of the Ware area where he was hacked down by Louis Rose who justly received a yellow card, some would argue more based on the standard set by the referee with Subuola.
Danny Bunce stepped you to fire the free kick into the top right hand corner of the net from 20 yards, leaving Madden with no chance in the Ware goal.
Joao Carlos was replaced with Luke Marshall in injury time for the home side’s only substitution but Grays ran out comfortable 2-0 winners despite playing for fifty minutes with ten men.
Grays Athletic: George Kamurasi, Craig Pope, Junior Baker, Ryan Kirby, Danny Bunce, Joao Carlos (Luke Marshall 90), Kenny Beaney, Daniel Subuola, Joe Sweeney, Jack West, Jeff Hammond
Unused Subs: Dave East, Alex Cruickshank, George Smith, Tyrone Scarlett