Matamata Swifts AFC  
WEST HAMILTON 2 ...v... MATAMATA LADIES 3 aet>>(ht 1-1, ft 2-2)
>>WAIBOP FEDERATION 1 Saturday September 15, 2013 Venue Weka Street Kick-off 11:00
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It was the last match for any of the Matamata Swifts senior sides as the Challenge Swifts Ladies travelled to Weka Street Park to face West Hamilton in the final of the Waikato Plate. The ladies have been on a charmed run in the knock-out competition as their only 2 victories this year have come in the quarter- and semi-finals of the event.

The Swifts have found the going tough in the B division this year, but their competition on this occasion were the runaway winners of the C division, a side which had knocked over a number of other B sides in their run through the plate. It shaped up as interesting encounter and, as has been the case all season, there was plenty of travelling support to cheer the Matamata side on from the sideline.

There were plenty of nerves in the Matamata camp as they have put plenty of store in this match, and these may have contributed to their slow start as the home side created the early chances. Alisha Dare was doing well to keep her goal intact as the Swifts struggled to get the ball out of their own half. West Hamilton have scored plenty of goals this year, though, and they soon showed why. The West Ham striker picked up the ball in Matamata half and turned for goal. Unleashing a left-footed drive from 20 yards out, there was nothing Dare could do stop the ball rifling into the top corner.

As the half progressed the Swifts began to work their way into the match and the defence finally found some respite from the constant pressure. However it wasn't until late in the half that they were able to put some pressure on their host's goal. Leading goal scorer Sarah Coppard found herself free but tried to find support as she looked to be in on goal. Maybe that changed her decision moments later, however, as Chloe Verstraten played a dangerous ball in from the right. On this occasion, Coppard put her left foot through it first time and the ball beat the despairing dive of the West Ham keeper to level the scores at the half.

The second spell saw the home side once again starting the stronger as they looked to regain their advantage early. And it wasn't long before they were successful. A through ball put the West Ham winger away and a tidy centre gave her striker an easy tap in for her, and West Ham's, second.
With their advantage restored, West Ham seemed to settle in to a more defensive formation. This allowed the Swifts to press forward and they were spending long periods on attack. At the back, the defence were limiting the home sides to strikes from range as they did well to contain the dangerous West Ham strikers. Clear opportunities were few and far between, and West Ham seemed to be getting more confident of their win as the half wore on.

With the minutes ticking down the Swifts were getting more and more desperate to once again level the scores. Kerrie Cox found herself in space but Larissa Moroney was just unable to finish while Sommer Rickard had her chances down the left. Players were being pressed forward while the defence were having to work even harder as they were left vunerable at the back. A late flurry of corners saw most of the Swifts in the West Ham box, but it was still Coppard that the ball fell from the cross. Her desperate shot was heading wide of the goal but, to the shock of everyone watching, it took a big deflection off a West Ham defender which saw the ball fly between keeper and defender to spark a massive celebration.

Suddenly the game became a measure of fitness as extra time was to see another 30 minutes of action. And it was Matamata, on a high from the late equaliser and match fit, who were dominating the first extra time spell. West Ham looked deflated, and were struggling to keep up having been out of action for 4 weeks following the early finish to their season. However there were no real clear cut chances and it was still level when the sides changed sides for the third time.

They didn't stay level for long, however. It was a similar combination which saw the Swift's take the lead for the first time in the match. Verstraten once again broke free down the right and headed to goal. She surged straight to the net and her powerful shot was well saved, but not held. Coppard was first to react as she pounced on the loose ball and volleyed it into the top of the net to spark another round of celebrations along with the first ladies hat-trick of the year.

Now it was the Swift's turn to drop deep on defence, while using the counter-attack to relieve pressure when possible. The tactic seemed to be working until late when West Ham broke free. A shot from the right seemed to be goal bound but a despairing lunge from Cox turned the ball aside for a corner. The final whistle sounded soon after to give the visitors the plate and jubilation for all the support.

It was a thrilling and fitting finale, and a real spectacle to watch. Player of the day went to hat-trick hero Sarah Coppard with a special fan-mention to defender Rebecca Stewart who was once again excellent on defence. But ultimately it was an outstanding effort by every member of the team who all made huge contributions to the side's success. A deserved victory and a wonderful end to the season.

Once again, the Swifts would like to thank all their sponsors and remind everyone that all are welcome to the senior prize giving on October 5th at the Horse and Jockey.