Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Holcombe 2 Surbiton 3
Surbiton all but booked their place in the end of season playoffs after they used all their resilience to battle to a thrilling 3-2 win at Holcombe on Sunday after both Wimbledon and Old Georgians lost ground on Saturday.
Wimbledon lost 2-1 at home to Hampstead & Westminster and Old Georgians were held to a 4-4 draw at bottom club Reading to give Surbiton a nine point advantage over both teams, Wimbledon having played a game more.
With Beeston, battling with Holcombe to stay in touch with the top four, a massive nineteen points behind Surbiton with just seven games to play in fifth, Surbiton can confirm their place in the playoffs with a home win over the University of Exeter next Saturday.
At Holcombe Park, the sun disappeared behind cloud just before push back and with the skies darkening, the floodlights were needed on another chilly day in Kent.
Both teams attacked from the start but found their opposing defences difficult to break through, Holcombe’s captain, Ali Bray especially effective in defence.
Barry Middleton combined well with Robert Field early for Holcombe and James Royce attacked with Ben Boon and Zach Wallace in separate attacks but both defences held firm.
Both teams entertained the supporters with their hockey skills, Holcombe’s Harry Trusler keeping possession in spite of losing his footing and Surbiton’s Tom Sorsby balancing the ball on his stick in the second half.
The breakthrough came in added on time at the end of the first quarter, Luke Taylor converting Surbiton’s first penalty corner.
Holcombe equalised in the 21st minute. Hayden Phillips came close to scoring from a pass from Nick Bandurak, but seconds later made no mistake from the next attack, turning the ball in at the left post to give the home supporters something to cheer in the cold weather.
The teams were still level at the half time break when there was a brief shower but Taylor worked his penalty corner magic for a second time in the 43rd minute to restore Surbiton’s lead from the visitors’ fourth penalty corner.
Surbiton eventually forced ten penalty corners in the match due to corners in awarded in batches, but Holcombe levelled from their second penalty corner in the 65th minute, Bandurak scoring his tenth goal of the campaign to threaten the visitors’ one hundred per cent record.
However it was Surbiton’s tenth penalty corner which was to be decisive, Taylor completing a hat-trick in the penultimate minute and returning to his position as the division’s leading goalscorer with 17 goals of which 16 have come from penalty corners.
Beeston beat Brooklands Manchester University 3-1 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and the University of Exeter restored their two point advantage over bottom club Reading with a 2-2 draw at home to East Grinstead.
Scorers: Hayden Phillips 21-F, Nick Bandurak 65-PC
Squad: Richard Curtis (GK); Louis Duprez, Jeremy Edwards, Tom Moore, Ali Bray (Capt.), Alex Moen, Robert Field, Harry Trusler, Barry Middleton, Mo Mea, Nick Bandurak.
Subs: Hayden Phillips (9 mins), Anton Parente Varela (10), Craig Morton (11), Oliver Walker (21).
Cards: Green: Robert Field (16 mins).
Squad: Harry Gibson (GK); Luke Taylor, Tom Sorsby, Ben Boon, Jonny Gall (Capt.), Jonty Griffiths, Zach Wallace, James Royce, Alan Forsyth, David Goodfield, James Gall.
Subs: Arjan Drayton-Chana (6 mins), Sam Spencer (6), Scott Evans (9), Theun De Leeuw (13).
Cards: Green: James Gall (11 mins), Tom Sorsby (58 mins).
Match Official: Janet Sutton
Umpires: Lee Barron and Nick Padget.