The long-delayed local football season finally got underway at the weekend as Matamata Swifts’ three senior teams, and host of junior teams, kicked off what will be a shortened, but no less intriguing, campaign.
Comag Matamata Swifts are flying the club’s flag in The Soccer Shop WaiBOP Premiership once again and began 2020 in the best possible manner after beating Otumoetai, one of the title favourites, 3-1 at the Domain on Saturday afternoon.
The weeks since lock-down have been tumultuous for the club and it looked likely the Swifts may not even make it to the starting line. But the players rallied, put in some good training sessions, then fronted up against Otumoetai with a performance of grit, heart, and pride for their club.
The Swifts took the lead on ten minutes when new signing, Chris Lee, crashed home at the far post from a wicked Harry Conner cross and the locals could have doubled their lead several times during the opening 45 minutes.
Otumoetai put on a much improved showing after the break and it was only some desperate defending that kept Matamata’s lead until 20 minutes after the break, when the visitors equalised. With the bench cleared, however, the Swifts found their second wind and it was substitute Finn Challis who proved the start turn. Challis provided a neat assist for Pete Shannon to tuck home the go-ahead goal with twelve minutes remaining, then hooked home the third a minute later to secure the points.
In a rousing team performance, captain Bjorn Vossen and youngster Anton Ganas led the way for Matamata.
On Sunday, the Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies team also bagged three points after a rousing 3-2 victory over Tokoroa. These two sides always put on a show when they take on each other and this match was no exception. Maggie Leaver’s opening goal for Matamata was matched by a neatly worked Tokoroa equaliser before the break.
Leaver scored a second after half time while captain, Mary Ontiveros, whipped home a typically lethal free kick to help secure.
Tokoroa were never out of the game and if it wasn’t for Swifts goalie, Lisa Dunn, the score may very well have been quite different.
Waharoa Transport Matamata Reserves couldn’t make it three from three, going down 5-1 away to Claudelands Rovers on Saturday. Ethan Davis’ goal was the sole highlight during a first half in which Rovers scored four. A more cohesive performance after the break suggests the reserves will be an improved side during the weeks to come.