WARE manager Paul Halsey threatened to leave his players in the Heybridge Swifts dressing rooms at half-time after a clash with the referee, writes JON LONGMAN.

Army referee Mike Robertson-Tant was faced with calling off Saturday’s 2-1 friendly defeat at Swifts after a bad-tempered clash over centre-half Louis Rose's dismissal.

The official booked Rose “for foul and abusive language” after he swore at Robertson-Tant.

The official had issued a verbal 39th-minute warning because a Ware player kept advancing down the touchline time and again to take a throw in.

Then five minutes later, Robertson-Tant dismissed Rose for a dangerous tackle from behind on Swifts winger Chris Gregan.

Halsey was furious and declared to the crowd: “We can pull out of this game at half-time.”

Robertson-Tant and the Ware manager then exchanged views in the tunnel leading to the dressing rooms.

Halsey said: “This sending off doesn’t matter because it is only a friendly.”

The referee replied: “It does matter” before going into the official’s room.

But the incident re-ignited after the 15-minute break when the start of the second half was delayed.

Assistant referees, Lucas Bomela and Sawhalhang Rai, made an early entry onto the pitch followed by the Heybridge team.

Only half the Ware team approached the pitch but Halsey withdrew these players back into the tunnel for several minutes and it appeared that the game was off.

Halsey had apparently asked the referee if he could bring on a substitute to replace Rose and the referee refused his request.

Halsey said that is was common practice in friendlies for referees to ask the manager to withdraw the offending player to cancel out the sending off.

He then backed down, sent his players out for the second half and avoided further confrontation by conducting the warm down after the match on the pitch.

Robertson-Tant will now submit his report to the Essex FA and the Ware manager could face a possible stadium or touchline ban plus a hefty fine for his behaviour.

Robertson-Tant is noted for his strict discipline. He also booked Swifts substitute Joel Older for a foul and Swifts secretary Steve Crisp declared: “That is another £12 we will have to fork out.”

The incidents failed to detract attention from the excellent Swifts performance as they maintained their shape throughout and was in total contrast to the previous Saturday’s 6-2 home drubbing by Maldon & Tiptree.

The absence of striker Jack Adlington-Pile, who scored both goals against the Jammers, due to an injury sustained in the game did not handicap the Swifts who deserved to be level at half-time.

In fact, they could have been one goal ahead as the referee was unsighted and missed a blatant handball in the 40th minute.

The Swifts took the lead two minutes into the second half when winger Manny Osei-Owusu flummoxed the Ware defence with his jinking run before delivering a cross to the far post where Harry McDonald headed Swifts into the lead.

Then two substitutes combined to secure a Swifts victory when Swifts Academy teenager Older turned the Ware defence inside out before releasing a pass for Tyrone Baker to drive home a superb goal in the 78th minute.

Another teenager, Devonte Simms, scored a consolation goal for Ware — his first senior goal for the Hertfordshire side who came under increasing pressure in the closing moments with keeper Calum Kitscha making a string of excellent saves.