The 2019 senior football season began at the Matamata Domain on Saturday as the club’s 1st and reserve teams hosted their Taupo counterparts in The Soccer Shop Premiership and Championship.

Comag Matamata Swifts fought their way to a valuable point, holding the 2018 Premiership champions, Taupo, to a goalless draw, despite playing more than half an hour with ten men. In the early game, a long-range strike from Leo Wullner ensured the Waharoa Transport Swifts Reserves also came away with a share of the points from their match against Taupo’s reserves.

The Swifts have had something of a dishevelled pre-season, but were able to enter their opening match with a fully fit and available squad and the hope that their injury-plagued 2018 season would be a distant memory. That lasted all of five minutes. Brad West landed awkwardly and now looks to be out for an extended period.

The first half, indeed most of the match, was a tight, even encounter, as the two sides matched each other for quality. The visitors came closest to opening the scoring, but new Swifts signing, Seamus Casey, tipped a strong shot from distance onto the cross bar. Chris Walker had a couple of half chances for the Swifts but the teams pretty much cancelled each other out.

Matamata’s challenge was made extra difficult just after the hour mark when Bjorn Vossen saw red, but the little bit of play-acting from the visitors that led to his dismissal was thankfully not rewarded. Casey was barely tested during the final third of the match as the Swifts defence, led by Danny Styles, preserved a deserved clean sheet and a solid point to start the season.

Waharoa Transport Swifts Reserves also snared a point from a 1-1 draw. Wullner’s angled strike from 30-plus metres out was reward for his team’s improving performance, after they went behind during the first half. The reserves grew into the game, with Chris Monteith and Mike Candy helping keep things tight at the back, while youngsters Sam Hills and Anton Ganas, on senior debut, were lively.

Next Saturday the Swifts head to newly promoted Te Puke United, while the Reserves make the short trip to Cambridge. The Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies team and the Camel Kebab Swifts 3rd team begin their 2019 campaigns this coming weekend. The Ladies host neighbours Cambridge at 11am on Sunday, while the 3rd team travels to Otorohanga on Saturday.