Ware 4-6 Walthamstow

Ten man Stow came back from Ware with three points in a game which defied belief and will live long in the memory of all those involved. The scoring started after just ten seconds, and despite trailing 4-3 with 90 minutes played, Stow somehow found a way to come out of the game with victory.

The suspension of Carl Mensah and unavailability of Te Wihongi meant Evangelos Empochontsif was brought in at centre back, signing from Rusden and Diamonds. Jordan Watson continued at right back, while Fabion Simms and Kieran Turner both returned to the starting line-up.

The game got off to the best possible start for Stow. Straight from kick-off, Jack Green hit Duncan Culley with a long ball, which Stow’s forward flicked into the path of Callum Ibe. Ibe was taken out by the last Ware defender Dan Rumens, but the referee played a good advantage, allowing Bilal Sayoud to get onto the end of Ibe’s pass, use a perfect first touch to trick past Marcus Milner and then finish low into Fred Burbidge’s far corner; with the Ware keeper rooted to the spot.

Six minutes later Stow had a huge shout for a penalty turned down when Culley was shoulder barged over in the box off the ball. But by now the home side had woken up, and ten minutes in Brandon Adams levelled the scores with a right-footed hook after a deep free-kick had been flicked on.

There was little to separate the two sides, though Ware were now having more of the ball. Joe Dearman should have done better with a deep cross towards the back post, but he made amends with half an hour played when he picked up a loose ball and fired in low past Brad Robinson.

Stow were looking lively on the counter, and Demaray Anyadike had a good one-on-one effort blocked by Burbidge. Ibe then had a penalty turned away, before Culley went in heavy on Ware’s Declan Nche, earning himself a booking.

The first half had been an end-to-end affair, but that still didn’t prepare anyone for what was to come. Almost straight from kick-off in the second half Stow could have levelled. Rumens missed a through ball from Ibe, and though Burbidge dropped Anyadike’s cross, there was no one on hand to tap it in.

Stow levelled for the first time on 59 minutes, when Ibe perfectly trapped a long ball over the top, beat a defender as he took the ball to the bye-line and then cut back for an unmarked Culley to side-foot home from six yards. The goal came at a cost though, as Culley landed awkwardly and had to leave the field through injury.

Just three minutes later and Stow were level. Watson picked up the ball on half-way, and made a lung-busting from right back, riding two tackles then evading a third, before squaring to Sayoud on the edge of the box. Sayoud’s first touch was perfect in taking the ball away from Milner, giving him the space to fire in an unstoppable low effort from just inside the area into Burbidge’s right-hand corner.

Ware have been on a torrid run of form since their victory over league leaders Berkhamsted in November, but smelt blood when Stow went down to ten men, with George Ironton going off injured and all three substitutions made.

For 25 minutes they peppered Stow’s goal. Robinson pulled off two superb saves to deny Adams, and Liam Dulson should have done better when unmarked on the edge of the box. But eventually, Adams got his reward, when he was left unmarked to chest down Leigh Rose’s header back across the box and volley home from six yards.

There was a feeling of inevitability that with the bit between their teeth, Ware would go onto win the game, and that looked to be the case when Joshua Williams curled in a fantastic shot from the edge of the box in the 90th minute, sparking wild scenes amongst the Ware players, managers and supporters.

But what came next will go down in Stow legend. Straight from kick off, Sayoud drove towards the Ware goal. He slipped past a tackle before playing the ball wide to Jared Small on the right wing. Small took a couple of touches to give himself a yard of space and then picked out Sayoud with a perfect cross which Stow’s winger managed to divert over Burbidge and in off the far post.

Amongst all the excitement, Anyadike grabbed the ball from the Ware goal as if to say this ain’t done yet. And it was Anyadike who completed the turnaround. Still smarting, Ware were looking to get in front again, but Adams tried to do too much on halfway, and was tackled by Small. Ibe picked up the loose ball and surged towards goal, slipping in Anyadike who had beaten Rumens with a lightning turn of pace. At first, it seemed like Anyadike had taken the ball too wide, but his finish was absolutely perfect, rolling past Burbidge and in off the same far post. If the scenes after Ware’s goal to go 4-3 up were wild, these were something else. Coach David Bastian did his best Brian Kidd impression, and all of Stow’s players and subs ended up in one huge pile in the corner. There were hugs, and a few people took a tumble, but no one following Stow cared a bit.

Despite this, there was still time to play, and Ware appealed loudly for a penalty, but the referee pointed for a free kick just outside the Stow box. The set piece was played back to Joel Jacobs, unmarked on the edge of the D, but he fired high and wide.

Incredibly, there was yet more time for Stow to get a sixth goal. Ware continued to push but Kai Davis won the ball 20 yards into his own half with 96 minutes played. From there he just put his head down and ran towards goal. His first effort was blocked, but he took a touch to control the rebound and then fired low past Burbidge. If Anyadike’s goal was greeted by unbridled ecstasy, Davis’ was met by pure disbelief. The forty-or-so travelling Stow fans had never seen anything like it.

The win moves Stow to within two points of the play-offs, but will have to switch on again for a tough trip to Kidlington this Wednesday.

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