Swifts up for big club chal­lenges

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Mata­mata Swifts be­gin a daunt­ing 2011 foot­ball sea­son this Satur­day with a trip to Auck­land to play Ma­nurewa AFC, one of the North­ern Re­gion Foot­ball League Divi­sion 1 favourites.

This sea­son is a huge chal­lenge for a small club and the Swifts will be com­pet­ing in a strong league against some big clubs and as the only Waikato/Bay of Plenty club in divi­sion one will clock up more miles than ever be­fore.

‘‘This divi­sion is the sec­ond high­est league in win­ter foot­ball in New Zealand,’’ Swifts coach Dun­can Lowry said.

‘‘There’s only the premier league above us and divi­sion one in­cludes us and 11 teams from Auck­land and fur­ther north.’’

Mr Lowry’s goal for the sea­son was to try to stay in divi­sion one, he said.

‘‘We have to take as many points as we can at home by mak­ing the Mata­mata Do­main a dif­fi­cult place for vis­it­ing teams to come.

‘‘ If we can nick a few points on the road as well then we should be okay.’’

The Swifts will see a few changes this sea­son.

‘‘We’ve lost some ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, in­clud­ing Grant Cooper as well as our two lead­ing scor­ers from last sea­son, Mike Beard, who’s un­likely to re­turn from Bri­tain, and Tim Miller. Their goals, in par­tic­u­lar, will be tough to re­place,’’ he said.

The spine of Mata­mata’s side will be built around ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers. Andy Birchenough, Ged Parkin­son and Al­berto Romero have all played more than 100 games for the club, while Tom Pam­ment, Jon Allen, Stu Watene and Be­van Wolters­dorf have played many sea­sons at this level.

Lowry also said he was de­lighted to see Michael Spencer was back to full fit­ness af­ter in­jury wrecked his 2010 sea­son.

Mata­mata also wel­comes back Is­mail Awad af­ter he took last sea­son off. Awad played for the Swifts in 2009 and scored some im­por­tant goals.

Ex­cit­ing for Lowry

is a crop of solid young­sters.

Play­ers like Andrew Cloth­ier, Glen Carmichael, Dwayne Sig­nal, Cory Rosser, Jamie Bax­ter and sev­eral oth­ers have im­pressed dur­ing the pre­sea­son pe­riod. ‘‘I ex­pect to see more first team in­volve­ment from these play­ers this year,’’ Lowry said.

‘‘Andrew and Jamie have been around the side for sev­eral sea­sons, while all the young­sters have ben­e­fited from a pre-sea­son work­ing with Wil­fredo An­tunez, our re­serve team coach. They now have a great op­por­tu­nity for an ex­tended run in the side and we’re go­ing to need their en­ergy, en­thu­si­asm and tal­ent.

‘‘ I’m also hopeful Ollie Wright, who is with the na­tional un­der-17 squad, will also see some in­volve­ment with us, pos­si­bly later in the sea­son,’’ he said.

Fol­low­ing the trip to Ma­nurewa, the Swifts re­turn to the Do­main on April 9 to play their first home game of the sea­son, when they host One­hun­gaMan­gere United.

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