1st Team
Wed 01 May 2024
Bedford Town
A Collard (36'), L Lobjoit (47')
Ware FC
1st Team
K Bishop (94')
Bedford Town 2 Ware 1

Bedford Town 2 Ware 1

Stephen King2 May - 14:52
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Play-off bridesmaids once more as Ware fall in the semi-final.

Bedford’s unaccountable loss of form in the early part of 2024 can be the only reason they failed to claim automatic promotion this season rather than rely on the play-offs. They have the right balance and skillset for Step 4 with a number of players who would do well at a higher level.

In this game those who stood out in a first half that Bedford largely controlled were Carl Mensah, a tall centre back who could also dominate opposition defences causing uncertainty at corners and free kicks, and Leon Lobjoit whose scoring ability was once again realised in this game.

It was all too much for Ware who mostly just reacted to their opponents in the first forty-five minutes rather than trying to set the agenda in the way their hosts did. As a result Bedford were looking dangerous from early on when Lobjoit crossed to Ryan Blake who should have at least put his header on target. Then three minutes later it was Lobjoit again with a fierce shot that must have stung Fred Burbidge’s hands even through his gloves as he parried it away

In between Theo Ofori had squirmed free of Mensah in the Bedford penalty area only for the assistant’s flag to indicate that he had done so by use of his hand. Clements did manage to outwit the tall centre back on the half hour mark and laid the ball off to Joe Dearman but he was surrounded by other defenders and couldn’t get his shot away.

For the rest of the half it was Bedford building the pressure and it told ten minutes from the break. Liam Dulson’s corner from the Bedford left found Alexander Collard whose close range header gave Burbidge too little time to do more than get a hand to the ball on its way into the net.

Ware clung on and a Dearman cross somehow missed both Ofori and Jack Dreyer but at the other end another Dulson corner was cleared off the line by David Sota. It still looked as though Ware could go in just down by a single goal but two minutes into added time Lobjoit met Blakes cross on the edge of the penalty area and cracked it into the top of the net. It was a wonderful strike for what, with hindsight, was the match winning goal.

At two-nil down that might have been the end for the visitors, even the start of a drubbing, but this was the same half-time score as in the recent league meeting which Ware went on to win. There were just three differences in the Bedford starting line up between the two matches so enough collective memory for there to be at least the potential for nerves and doubt.

Certainly Ware came out looking to underline that and for the first fifteen minutes of the half had the home side back pedalling. Ten minutes in Stef Georgiou’s shot was deflected away for a corner by Mark Smith and on the hour Ofori brought a good save out of the keeper before Dearman shot just past a post.

Ofori, who had been floored in the first minute of the game in a manner that earned Jack Green a yellow card was now back to form and causing problems. As a result Green was taken off and the Bedford ship was steadied to a degree. Lobjoit drew a fingertip save out of Burbidge and Dulson at last made an opening for himself, cutting in from the left before shooting in his trademark fashion but the ball went well wide.

The game was now well enough contested to entertain a four figure crowd many of whom must have been wondering how there could be such a change in the way Ware were playing compared with the first half. For Ware supporters, any fears that they might concede more goals must now have been replaced by hopes that they would score. Bedford must have thought it possible too and when the chance arose looked to use up time by keeping the ball at the Ware corner flag

As it was Ware’s goal came with almost the last kick of the game when Georgiou, who played well throughout for Ware, crossed and found Keiran Bishop in the Bedford penalty area. He was not in the best position with his back to goal and defenders behind him but turned and suddenly found the way open. His shot gave Smith no chance.

Ware had come good in the second half and deserved their goal but overall Bedford had earned their win. They should be a hard nut to crack in the final.

Ware: Fred Burbidge, Stef Georgiou, David Sota, Mitch Hahn (Keiran Bishop 68mins), Louis Rose, Jack Grosvenor, Theo Ofori, Alex Warman, Jon Clements, Jack Dreyer, Joe Dearman (Richard Ennin 76mins). Unused subs: Freddy Moncur, George Ironton, Ekow Coker.

Match details

Match date

Wed 01 May 2024





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