Cambridge have completed their pre-season preparation for the coming Northern League season with a double-header of wins against local rivals Matamata Swifts.
The Reds first team beat the Swifts’ WaiBOP Premiership line-up 4-2 while in the early game, the Cambridge U-23s beat Matamata’s second string 4-1.
Firsts: Cambridge 4, Matamata Swifts 2
After a moving minute’s applause to honour Swifts legend Jack Poole who died this week, the two sides quickly got into action at John Kerkhof Park, with both teams wanting to make best use of their last chance to prepare for the season proper which starts next Saturday.
Reds head coach Paul Richardson gave 17-year-old Aston Hurd his first chance to feature in the starting line-up and the youngster repaid the coach’s confidence, scoring twice.
Ewan Bussey also scored a pair with two terrific strikes.
With Cambridge leading 3-0, Richardson experimented, trialling young debutant Connor Perrot and trying a new full back combination of Josh Nooyen and Jasom Khatkar, both of whom performed well.
Jamie Woodlock (main photo) dictated play in central midfield, ably assisted by Marc Glenister and Bradley Rea.
Cambridge created most of their threatening attacks out wide through Michael Cosgrave and Bussey.
New signings Tevin Luther-Smith and Tom O’Leary provided late cameos, helping to control the game’s latter stages.
Striker Davy Smith, who has top-scored for the Reds in pre-season, was rested for the game, while Kieran Hill and Thomas Purves sat out the last friendly due to injuries.
Cambridge will start their 2021 Lotto NRFL campaign next weekend but the league has yet to confirm the fixture list due to difficulties securing grounds in Auckland. The fixtures are expected to be confirmed early in the week – watch this website for more information.
Reserves: Cambridge U-23s 4, Matamata Swifts 1
A youthful Cambridge reserve side swept aside Swifts’ second string without too much trouble and could have potentially run into double figures without the heroics of the Swifts keeper who saved a penalty and three one-on-one point-blank saves.
However, even his abilities could not stop a rampaging Cambridge side scoring goals and running out comfortable 4-1 winners, with three goals to player-coach Colin Coster and another to Ben Dixon.
This was an outstanding display from a team with an average age of 18, and who seem to have improved each week during pre-season, having won all their warm-up games.
Solid performances from Morgan Montrose, Matt “one-touch“ Kovak and James Wilkinson on debut.
Sam Reidy played well at fullback in his progression from the federation team set up. Young Joseph Koh also had a solid debut.
Waikato Division 4: Cambridge D2 4, Northern United 0
The D2s continued their winning pre-season form with a comfortable win against last season’s division title winner, Northern United.
Andrew Myers scored his second hat-trick in as many games, indicating he’s hitting form in time to cause opposition defences all sorts of problems this season.
Yash Niewiadomski scored Cambridge’s 4th goal, volleying home a lofted cross.
Coach Cole van den Beuken says he’s delighted with the team’s preparation.
“All the positive signs are there as we prepare for the start of our season (in early April), and the team is connecting really well.”