The Waikato Junior football season began last weekend, meaning Matamata Swifts teams were in action across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region, travelling as far as Ngongotaha, Otorohanga, Raglan and Huntly.

Ngongotaha 1-1 Waikato Stud Matamata Swifts
WaiBOP Premiership

Waikato Stud Matamata Swifts returned from Ngongotaha after taking a well-earned point from one of the league’s form teams. The Swifts have traditionally struggled at Stembridge Road, but the side competed well against rugged opposition.

The scoring took place inside the first quarter, with the hosts taking the lead before Swifts captain, Dwayne Signal, equalised with his first goal of the season. Signal, playing in a more advanced role these days, capitalised on some fine work from Ronan Costello.

While that was the end of the scoring, the match ebbed and flowed, with each side having their moments. The final couple of minutes saw both Ngongotaha and the Swifts squander gilt-edged chances in an ending that could have dramatically altered the outcome.

For Matamata, Joe Tompsett was solid, although the performance was built on a strong team effort, in which the Swifts looked far more secure than during last week’s ASB Chatham Cup win in Auckland.

Matamata now looks forward to the next round of the Cup, which is to be played at the Domain this Saturday against Waiuku AFC. Waiuku compete in NRFL Division 1, which is two leagues higher than the Swifts, so it will be a good test for the locals.

Ngongotaha reserves 3-3 Richardson Racing Stables Swifts reserves
WaiBOP Championship

Richardson Racing Stables Swifts reserves endured a topsy turvy encounter in the early game at Ngongotaha, pressing to a 2-0 lead, then trailing 3-2 at one point, before eventually having to settle for a draw.

The reserves began brightly and should have had more to show for their first half dominance than Micah Barr’s solitary goal. They doubled their lead after the break, however, when Shaun Richardson smashed home from the penalty spot after Logan Allen had been unceremoniously dumped in the box.

That should have been that, but the hosts had different ideas and they burst into life with three goals in four minutes to take an unlikely lead. Parity was restored when substitute Viraj Kumar, on for his senior debut, slotted the equaliser after good work by Matt Monteith.

This was another lesson in the vagaries of football for the young reserve side, who a becoming the league’s draw specialists after their third stalemate in five games.

Otorohanga 2-4 Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies
Waikato Ladies Division B

Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies continued their unbeaten start to the 2015 season with a solid win on the road in Otorohanga.

The ladies, who travelled with the bare eleven, scored twice in each half to force a well-earned victory. Annemieke Verstraten led the way with a double and was supported in the goal scoring stakes by Kerrie Cox and Maggie Delahunty, who both got a one each. The ladies had to come from behind and did it tough with several players carrying knocks, but ground out the result they needed.

While the team’s defence was finally broached, with Otorohanga’s goals being the first they’ve let in all season, this was an excellent effort across the board from the team against challenging opposition.

The team now heads into a run of five games in six at home and will be looking to make the most of this home advantage as they press for a second consecutive league title.

Swifts Juniors

Open Grade: Southwell 3-4 Matamata Hornets (Hornets goal scorers: Dom Hardie, Don Smitstra, Braedyn Henderson, Sam Hills. Player of the Day: Sam Hills.); Matamata Tigers 6-1 Hamilton North Hawkes (Tigers’ goal scorers: Jayden Baker 2, Brodie Cleaver 2, Will Benefield, Reuben Davis); Raglan Piranhas 7-2 Matamata Falcons.
11th Grade: HRFC Juventus 4-0 Matamata Jets.
10th Grade: Claudelands Renegades 5-0 Matamata Dragons; Glenview Knights 7-2 Matamata Strikers (Strikers’ goal scorers: Anshil Dayal, Damon Shaw).
9th Grade: Matamata Rebels 6-3 Claudelands Misfits (Rebels’ goal scorers: Dylan Brown 4, Jack Tims, Liam Costello-McVeigh. Players of the Day: Dylan & Liam); Huntly Spartans 8-0 Matamata Eagles (Eagles Player of the Day: Joshua Martin).
8th Grade: Woodstock Wolverines 5-3 Matamata Magpies (Magpies’ goal scorers: Nathan Quinn 2, Harrison Smith).