Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 6 Holcombe 4
Surbiton have a recent history of high-scoring opening day matches in the MHL Premier Division having won 10-1 at Reading in 2019-20 and 8-1 at home to Brooklands Manchester University last season.
In 2021-22 there were another ten goals to take the tally to thirty in the last three games, but in contrast to the previous two matches, Holcombe provided a very competitive opposition and only three Surbiton goals in the final quarter prevented the visitors from taking all three points back to Kent.
Heavy rain in the morning made way for drier conditions at push back time, although there was always the threat of rain and the floodlights were needed.
Surbiton dominated at the start, with only Craig Wild’s defensive deflection preventing Tom Sorsby from making a first-minute impact. Holcombe’s Ollie Payne was called upon to make saves from both Ben Boon and Rob Farrington before Holcombe shocked Surbiton in the eighth minute, Tom Russell scoring with a shot that crept inside the left post.
Surbiton had to wait until the 26th minute to draw level with a goal which had an element of luck depending on which team was being supported. Rob Farrington tried to pull the ball back from Holcombe’s backline but somehow the ball rebounded off Payne and into the goal.
Holcombe restored their lead three minutes before halftime when Nick Bandurak fired home from left of the circle to leave Surbiton trailing 2-1 at the break with no indication of the second half goal fest to come.
Surbiton equalised for the second time in the 45th minute, Gareth Furlong finding the backboard with a penalty corner conversion from their third award. However, within three minutes, Surbiton found themselves with more work to do as Holcombe struck twice in as many minutes with both goals coming from rebounds after Ore Ogunlana saved initial shots.
First Jake Owen put Holcombe ahead for the third time in the 47th minute before Tom O’Keefe was on hand to cement the visitors’ lead a minute later to put them on track for their first win at Surbiton since March 2018.
4-2 down, Surbiton’s comeback started in the 50th minute when Farrington scored his second goal of the match, rifling the ball into the top left corner from the right of the circle to allow Surbiton to go into the fourth quarter with a 4-3 deficit.
Luke Taylor found the backboard from Surbiton’s fifth penalty corner in the 54th minute to make the score in a pulsating match, 4-4.
With four minutes remaining, David Goodfield ran towards goal before beating Payne to put Surbiton ahead for the first time in the match at 5-4.
Then in the penultimate minute, Surbiton’s sixth and final penalty corner resulted in a penalty stroke after Taylor’s initial shot was saved and Boon followed up with another shot on goal. After a brief umpire consultation, the stroke decision was confirmed, with Taylor stepping up to slot the ball past Payne to clinch victory in a match, in which other than the formal result, there were no losers with both teams serving up 70 minutes of attacking enthralling hockey.
Scorers: Rob Farrington 26-F, 50-F; Gareth Furlong 45-PC, Luke Taylor 54-PC, 69-PS; David Goodfield 66-F
Starters: Luke Taylor, Rob Farrington, Tom Sorsby, Ben Boon, Jonny Gall (Capt.), Tim Nurse, Jonty Griffiths, David Goodfield, Nick Park, Gareth Furlong, Ore Ogunlana (GK).
Subs: Arjan Drayton-Chana (4 mins), Jack Middleton (5), Ben Park (7), Nick Park (7), Jamie Taylor (8).
Cards: Green: David Goodfield (41 mins).
Scorers: Tom Russell 8-F, Nick Bandurak 32-F, Jake Owen 47-F, Tom O’Keefe 48-F
Starters: Tim Guise-Brown, Craig Wild, Hayden Philips, Ali Bray (Capt.), Alex Moen, Robert Wild, Harry Trusler, Barry Middleton, Greg Nolan, Ollie Payne (GK), Nick Bandurak.
Subs: Jake Owen (7 mins), Tom Russell (7), Tom O’Keefe (7), Sam Paterson (11), Jake Raben (18).
Cards: Green: Hayden Philips (11 mins). Yellow: Greg Nolan (63)
Match Official: Richard Barter
Umpires: Cam Reeman and David Monger