By Lucas Ball
Holcombe are searching for a fourth straight Premier Division win as they travel to Paddington Recreational to face London side Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday evening (6pm) to end Phase One.
Barry Middleton’s men have racked up 28 goals in their last three, scoring double figures against the University of Nottingham (12) and Beeston (10) before beating Cardiff & Met 6-0 last time out.
All six top-six spots for Phase Two have been sealed, with Holcombe currently third, three points behind leaders Old Georgians and second-placed Surbiton. Those three sides are all secure in the top six alongside Wimbledon, Hampstead & Westminster and newly-promoted Southgate – all 16 of their points to this point coming against bottom-six sides.
Middleton was without the services of captain and top-scorer Nick Bandurak against the Welsh side, the goals coming from Alex Pendle (2), Phil Roper (2), Hayden Phillips and Tom Russell.
Pendle, Roper and Russell have all been in impressive goalscoring form of late – Roper has 12 for the season following Saturday’s brace while Pendle has seven in five and Russell eight in five, with 10 for the season in total.
Andrew Wilson’s side have seven wins for the season and have won each of their last two after back-to-back defeats before that. They beat out-of-form Beeston 4-2 last time out at the Nottingham Hockey Centre and 10th-placed Cardiff & Met 4-0 to start November.
Two of their three defeats have come against fellow top-six sides, losing to Surbiton on the opening day and Old Georgians in October.
Assistant coach Ali Bray, meanwhile, is a former Holcombe player and also captained the first-team for a number of years.
Holcombe have won 8 of their 10 matches so far, scoring 49 goals and conceding just 11, leaving them with the third-highest goal tally and joint-best defensive record. Bandurak, Roper and Russell are all already on double figures for the season in all competitions, while Ollie Payne has kept four clean sheets so far.
Saturday’s hosts have the joint-worst attacking record in the top-six and worst defence in the top-five, scoring 30 and conceding 18. Toby Reynolds-Cotterill has kept just two clean sheets in comparison.
Updates of the match will be provided across our social media channels.
Image: Jon Goodall