Comag Matamata Swifts’ best ever run in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup, New Zealand Football’s national knock-out competition, came to an end on Saturday after a 2-0 defeat to six-time winner, North Shore United.
Despite their recent indifferent league form, the Swifts entered this match with confidence and created the first opening. But their spirits were dampened on the quarter hour when the visitors went ahead courtesy of an own goal.
Matamata carved out their best opening midway through the first half when Brad West forced a full stretch save from Shore’s keeper. The Swifts then had a massive shout for a penalty turned down when a hand ball went unspotted.
With the game in the balance, and only seconds after a Bjorn Vossen effort went narrowly wide, Shore broke to slot home their second goal only three minutes before the break.
Matamata saw lots of the ball during the second half, but Shore had resolved to sit in and take what they had, which would be enough to progress. The Swifts were perhaps guilty of over playing at times, but the visitors were well organised at the back and became extremely tough to break down.
The effort and attitude from the Swifts, after a difficult few weeks and against a good side, was pleasing and it was no shame to bow out at the final 32 stage.
Two other Swifts sides were in knock-out action over the weekend.
The Swifts A team progressed to the next round of the Waikato Plate on Saturday after a tense 2-1 win over Claudelands in the early game at the Domain. A goal from captain, Jamie Cox, and a Claudelands own goal was enough to put the A team in the hat for the next round.
On Sunday, the Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies pulled off the result of their season with a 4-2 win at Waikato Division A winners, Cambridge, in the second round of the Waikato Cup.
The Swifts Ladies is a team on the rise after an excellent recent run to finish fifth in Division A. They hit Cambridge with two early goals, through Maggie Leaver and Patrice Morrison, to set up what would be considered a huge upset by all but the Matamata players.
Cambridge is a champion side and didn’t make it plain sailing for Matamata and they hit back. But a second half strike from Annemieke Verstraten, then an own goal following more excellent work from Verstraten sealed the deal and progress to the next round.
This was the crowning result so far this season from a Matamata side that seems to be getting better each week under the tutelage of coach, Nigel Leaver. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come as the team goes on the hunt for silverware over the second half of the season.