Manukau City 1 v Matamata Swifts 2
NRFL Division 2 Saturday September 1,
Stanley Group Matamata Swifts have completed their 2012 campaign with their fifth away victory of the season against this year’s Chatham Cup surprise package, Manukau City.
An injury-time winner from Mackenzie Smith stole all three points for the Swifts from an evenly contested match in which each team had enough chances to win.
Smith’s calm sidefooted strike, following good work from leading scorer, Jack McNab, allowed Matamata to end this most difficult of seasons on a high.
Matamata had earlier taken the lead right on the stroke of halftime after a first half in which both sides battled against the atrocious playing surface.
McNab slotted home his 16th goal of the season after pressuring Manukau’s keeper into a mistake.
The goal, as with the winner, couldn’t have been timed any better.
The home side’s equaliser came after a sustained period of second-half pressure. Even though their lack of recent matchplay looked to finally be catching up with them, Matamata actually responded well.
The Swifts’ second wind ensured a frantic final 10 minutes when Andrew Carter, Scott Parsonage, McNab and one of Manukau’s defenders all looked likely to give Matamata the lead, before Smith finally grabbed the telling goal. Matamata keeper Jonathan Crook made an important save during this spell, keeping the scores level despite battling almost the entire game with what looked to have been a broken hand.
Each side hit the woodwork during this entertaining encounter, with the home side striking both the cross bar and the upright from free-kicks during the first spell, while McNab thundered a header into the cross bar only minutes before Matamata’s winner.
Matamata contested this match like a side that hadn’t played for three weeks, which they hadn’t, in both the positive and negative senses.
The Swifts looked refreshed and well rested, enabling them to start and finish the stronger of the two teams.
But they also had spells of rustiness, which meant the combinations sometimes didn’t work and some of the passing went astray. But the result is what matters and after a long tough season it was nice to spring into the offseason with something positive under the belt.