There wasn’t too much on offer around the Waikato Bay of Plenty region this weekend, with all the top local NRFL sides in Chatham Cup action up in Auckland (I’m not scheduled to head back up that way until next weekend). So I decided to trick my family into heading to the beach for the afternoon…with a stand-out ulterior motive – popping in ‘quickly’ for a look at Tauranga reserves versus Matamata Swifts in the WaiBOP Federation League.
Of course, we ended up watching most of it. As timing would have it, I missed the game’s opening goal, scored by the hosts, but saw Tauranga boss most of the rest of the first half. The one bright spot was the Swifts’ equaliser, scored by Ben Watson. He was released down the right and displayed an unnatural turn of pace to get in the box then drilled his shot into the roof of the net as the keeper fell out of the way.
The Swifts had to do a lot of first half defending and saw their keeper, Jono Crook, pull off several good saves. Tauranga were clearly playing to the conditions, with the blinding sun driving straight over the top of the Mount and pounding into the eastern goal. They hit the ball high and long as often as they could and it caused problems right up until half time.
After the break the hosts were less of a factor. Watson put Matamata ahead after zipping in from the left, sliding by three defenders, rounding the keeper and rolling the ball into the net. Matamata hit the cross bar when an Andrew Clothier shot from a long way out was palmed upwards by the keeper, but this evened up a earlier effort from Tauranga, the only one of note in the second half, that also appeared to come back off the cross bar into Crook’s arms.
Young sub, Adrian Naicker, completed the scoring for Matamata with less than ten to go. It was another clean effort that underlined the difference between two evenly matched teams. On this day, one team was efficient in front of goal, while the other was too ponderous.
The quality of the football on display was as inconsistent as you’d expect at this level, but it made for an open game and we were treated to some good goals and a Matamata win so it was a worthwhile trip over the Kaimais. The family had an ice cream and a walk on the beach before the game so everyone left happy.
And that’s about it from me for today. Apart from the photos, of course.