Comag Matamata Swifts won their penultimate away game of the 2017 season, 2-1 at Rotorua United, to maintain their good recent form and keep alive their hopes of a top two finish in the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership.
It wasn’t an easy afternoon for Matamata, missing several regulars and playing against a side fighting for their Premiership survival. Jasom Khatkar and Mike Candy made their first starts for the Swifts this season and the team took a little while to get going in the challenging Neil Hunt Park conditions.
The first half was goalless, although the Swifts had two very good penalty shouts waved away after ‘fouls’ on Scott Parsonage and Brad West, while the hosts also had their opportunities.
Khatkar fired the Swifts in front not long after the break, getting on the end of a cross from West. The goal was much needed and great reward for the youngster in his first start after an impressive debut season for the club’s reserve team.
Matamata was in control but the home side was given some hope in their battle against relegation when the Swifts gifted them an equaliser with 20 minutes to go.
The Swifts continued to create chances and were also able to introduce further reserve team players Ram Singh and Blair Griffiths, in what was his first team debut.
The winner came with less than five minutes left after some sustained Swifts pressure. Dayne Willemsen finished off a good move to ensure Matamata returned home with three deserved points.
Victory moved the Swifts level on 40 points with Tauranga’s Old Blues and, with a game in hand over them and second-placed Waikato Unicol, Matamata still has a chance of finishing second. That will require wins in their final two games, which includes a visit by Melville United this Saturday then a trip to Old Blues for their final match on September 30.
No other Swifts teams played at the weekend. Richardson Racing Stables Matamata Reserves had the weekend off ahead of their final game this coming Saturday, while the Swifts A team and Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies have finished their season.