Waikato Stud Matamata Swifts completed an encouraging 2016 Loaded WaiBOP Premiership campaign with an engaging draw at the Domain against champions, Ngongotaha.
Both teams were missing regular starters and that, combined with the wet, sticky conditions could have led to a drab match. But both teams brought attacking intent and a will to win which led to an open, entertaining final match of the Premiership campaign.
The Swifts took the lead on 18 minutes when Chris Walker slotted home, then doubled their lead 15 minutes later through Ben Vogt. To this point, Matamata had looked comfortable, with the visitors looking occasionally dangerous on the counter. But they struck back almost immediately and the Swifts headed to the break with a slender lead.
Matamata worked an excellent passing move which led to Vogt’s second goal ten minutes into the second half and at that point the Swifts looked like ending Ngongotaha’s season-long unbeaten record and gaining the win they need to finish second on the Premiership table.
But Ngongotaha have scored over 100 goals this season, so more were always likely. They reduced the margin again with 20 minutes left before Matamata goalie, Jordan Wise, was forced from the field after a crunchingly brave save at the feet of a Ngongotaha attacker.
Ngongotaha got the equaliser a minute into the extended period of added time. Both sides pushed for a winner but a high scoring draw was a fair result after an entertaining game. It meant Matamata maintained their unbeaten home record while it was only the second time all season Ngongotaha had dropped points.
The Swifts finished level on points with 2015 champions, Cambridge, but third on goal difference.
In the early game, Richardson Racing Stables Swifts reserves were held to a 2-2 draw by Ngongotaha’s reserves. Goals from Hardeep Singh and Joe Tompsett had Matamata cruising at the break, before the visitors hit back twice in the early stages of the second half. Both sides pressed for a winner but couldn’t find it and in the end it was a result that summed up Matamata’s season. They created opportunities and had more of the game but couldn’t finish their opponents off.