Holcombe men continued their early season form to make it two wins from two with another impressive victory over the weekend, winning 5-2 away to Southgate.
An electric first-half display from Barry Middleton’s side saw them race into a 3-0 lead in front of a noisy crowd at Southgate Hockey Centre, with the visitors’ attacking performance arguably deserving of more goals.
Despite that, it was Southgate who tested the opposition goalkeeper first with Ollie Payne forced into action early on, before a cutting Holcombe attack saw Tom Russell played through on goal, the Great Britain Elite Development Programme (EDP) player slotting superbly past Anton van Loggerenberg.
Full Great Britain internationals Phil Roper and Nick Bandurak soon began to cause Southgate problems with Roper flashing a cut-back just past the post and Bandurak firing a powerful effort just off-target.
Roper soon saw a reverse effort saved well by van Loggerenberg too, before a quick counter-attack from Kwan Browne’s side saw them win a penalty corner. The initial effort was cleared off the line before a goalmouth scramble ended in the hosts hitting the post from close range.
Tim Guise-Brown then saw a penalty corner effort saved as Holcombe looked for a second before it deservedly came through Roper. Vice-captain Rob Field superbly beat a number of defenders before playing the ball across goal for the aforementioned Roper, who coolly slotted home a relatively simple chance.
The third Holcombe goal came from an incredible team move, likely to be one of the best goals of the Premier Division season. A number of players were involved in a fast, free-flowing move full of flair and first-time passes, with the ball eventually coming to Sam Taylor in the circle who slid home for a rare goal.
Holcombe saw another penalty corner routine kept out before Southgate created some opportunities of their own. First up, Payne made a great save from a penalty corner before a well-worked move saw a cross into the circle fall to Richmond Lum, who lifted the ball and volleyed an upright reverse into the top corner to give Payne no chance.
Middleton’s men could have restored their three-goal advantage before the break were it not for a brilliant Browne intervention to deny captain Bandurak a shooting opportunity before Hayden Phillips’ cross narrowly evaded the Great Britain forward, who was in space at the back post.
The third quarter was a quieter affair in terms of chances, though the visitors were able to add a fourth goal. Jake Owen and Roper linked-up brilliantly in the build-up before laying it on a plate for Bandurak, who finished well from close range for his second goal of the season.
In the final period, Roper saw a chance well-saved before the hosts had a goal disallowed for a foul in the build-up.
Soon after, Bandurak had his third of the campaign when Roper drove brilliantly down the left to fire a reverse cross in to the circle, the captain sliding in to deflect the ball past van Loggerenberg and make sure of the three points.
Alex Pendle also came close to scoring his first Holcombe goal late on. The last action of the match came via a Southgate penalty corner on the final whistle, from which Archie Foster scored.
Holcombe are one of just three teams who maintained their 100% record and sit joint-top with Wimbledon, who have scored and conceded exactly the same number of goals as the Kent side.
Middleton’s side face champions Old Georgians at Holcombe Park on Thursday night (8:30pm) and entry is free, before they head to Sugden Road to take on Surbiton next week as part of another double-header (6pm), with Holcombe women also in action against Surbiton 2s in the Vitality Division One South (3:30pm).