Comag Matamata Swifts suffered a 3-1 defeat at Taupo, The Soccer Shop WaiBOP Premiership leaders, on Saturday but there were positive results for the club’s two other teams that were in action over the weekend.
The match in Taupo was bright, open, highly competitive and packed with the usual amount of talking points that fans come to expect from encounters between these two sides. Both sides had a range of good chances, with Dwayne Signal, Chris Walker and Brad West all going so close for the Swifts, while Seamus Casey and the Matamata defence were also kept extremely busy. But, from a Matamata perspective, several big calls appeared to influence the outcome of the match.
Taupo went ahead from the penalty spot after a clear foul, but that lead came not long after a seemingly on-side Chris Walker had his neat finish chalked out by the assistant referee’s flag. The frustration of that call was compounded six minutes from half time when Taupo doubled their lead from an excellent finish that was, unfortunately, allowed to stand despite a clear off-side in the build-up to the goal.
Both sides put pressure on the match officials with niggly fouls and an aggressive approach and this came back to bite the Swifts midway through the second half. Bjorn Vossen was clattered in the box in what seemed an obvious foul, given what had had been penalised in other areas of the pitch throughout the game, but the penalty wasn’t given and his reaction drew a warranted red card. This appeared a highly selective decision, however, given the abuse from both sides (and spectators) that had been allowed to pass earlier.
Down to ten men, Matamata could have folded but they then had their most settled period of the game. Walker was fouled in the box only minutes later. This time the penalty was awarded and Jamie Baxter converted. The Swifts pressed and came close to an equaliser when Taupo’s keeper all but threw the ball into his own net, but Taupo had the final say. They broke with pace three minutes into added time and finished clinically to put the game to bed.
The Camel Kebab Swifts 3rd team celebrated playing their first home game in five weeks by picking up their first win in five weeks, and they did it in style. The goals flew in as the team fought well to get their season back on track with their largest win of the season, 7-1 over Waikato Division 3’s bottom side, Claudelands Pingers. Jamie Cox and Ronan Costello both hit doubles, while Max Hill, Ethan Davis and Firas Algharibeh also got on the score sheet on a fun afternoon for the 3rd team.
On Sunday, the Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies continued their excellent recent run with a 4-1 home win over Huntly Thistle. After going behind early, the team hit back through goals from Kerrie Cox, Patrice Morrison, from the penalty spot, and two Maggie Leaver free kicks.
Leaver again was a standout performer, while Maddison Stewart and Bobbie Basalaj were strong in defence, setting the platform for the team to attack with confidence. Tayla Dunnett made a positive showing from the bench while Lisa Dunn, in goal, was strong when needed and saved a penalty to help keep the comfortable final margin intact.
With the Waikato Division 1 season nearing the halfway stage, Matamata is currently in a three horse race for the title. The team faces a couple of tricky away games in the coming weeks which, if results go well, could set them up nicely for a charge over the final stages of the season.