By Lucas Ball
Holcombe take on hosts Real Club de Polo de Barcelona in the Euro Hockey League (EHL) KO8 at 12pm (CEST) on Sunday, looking to reach the FINAL 8 of the EHL for the first time ever.
Barry Middleton’s side ran out 4-2 victors over Racing Club de France on Friday afternoon to set up the tie with goals from Nick Bandurak (2), Phil Roper and Tom Russell, while the Spaniards beat French champions CA Montrouge courtesy of goals from Marc Recasens (2), Alex Reyne and Anton Borras having been level at 0-0 at the half-time break.
The two sides have met once before in the Euro Hockey League, in the 2017/18 KO16 when Polo ran out 7-4 winners, though Holcombe were missing a number of key players for that match including now player-coach Barry Middleton. Bandurak netted twice with field goals counting as double in that particular campaign.
Polo were knocked out in last season’s KO8 by Harvestehuder, losing 3-0 having beaten fellow Spaniards Club Egara 5-2 in the KO16. They haven’t been as far as the quarter-finals since 2018/19, when they qualified straight to the knockout stage as league champions, beating Leopold in the round of 16 (4-3) and reaching the last four via a shootout win over Club Egara. Rot-Weiss Koln beat this weekend’s host in the semi-finals by three goals to one before Polo lost by the same scoreline to Mannheimer in the bronze medal match.
Bandurak and Roper will be hoping to continue their brilliant starts to the season with the former scoring seven goals in five games for the Premier Division table-toppers and Roper just one behind with six goals. Russell also scored his second of the season on Friday afternoon, a superb volleyed effort.
The match will be streamed at the clubhouse or you can purchase a stream here.
Image: World Sports Pics