A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match preview – Team Bath Buccaneers vs. W1s (Division One South, 2nd March, 2024)

By Lucas Ball

Holcombe are looking for an immediate return to winning ways as Nick Bandurak’s side visit Team Bath Buccaneers on Saturday (12:30pm) following a 2-1 home defeat to Harleston Magpies last time out.

Holcs slipped to third in the Division One South table as a result of that defeat with Barnes beating Southgate to edge in front in the race for promotion. Holcombe and Barnes meet on the penultimate weekend of action.

Bandurak’s side now sit a point behind Barnes with four fixtures remaining as they look to follow up Super 6s promotion with an immediate return to the Premier Division while still competing in the England Hockey Cup – Holcs are into the last four and will visit Doncaster, while Division One South leaders Surbiton 2s will host Premier Division outfit Beeston.

Bath restarted after the Christmas break with a surprising 1-0 win at Barnes but no wins in their last three – with defeats to Harleston Magpies and Sevenoaks as well as a draw with Canterbury – dragging Luke Hansford’s side firmly back into the relegation dogfight as they now sit rock bottom, two points from safety.

The two sides drew 4-4 in an entertaining encounter at Holcombe Park back in November, though both sides are now in desperate need of three points with only a handful of matches to play.

Holcombe remain the second-top-scorers in the division with 41 goals in 14 matches – only Surbiton 2s have more with 45 – while only Canterbury have scored less (13) than Team Bath Buccaneers’ 19, with Slough and Southgate also having notched 19 times.

The hosts do also have the second-worst-defence in the league, their 32 goals conceded only worsened by Wimbledon 2s, who have shipped 37 goals in 14 games. Holcs, meanwhile, have the joint-third-best defensive record alongside Barnes, with both sides having conceded 23.

Victory for Holcombe could see Bandurak’s side move back above Barnes if the Dukes Meadow side do not pick up all three points against Canterbury, while a draw would move Holcs back into second on goal difference if Barnes lose.

Defeat could see Holcombe fall to four points behind Barnes, though, if Omar Shibli’s side take the points against Canterbury.

Defeat for Bath could also see their gap to safety increase with only three fixtures left after Saturday’s clash including two against fellow strugglers Wimbledon 2s and newly-promoted Southgate.

A win for Holcombe would be their first in four matches ahead of another away trip next weekend, this time to Canterbury – who Bandurak’s side beat 7-1 at Holcombe Park earlier in the season.

Other Division One South fixtures (Saturday, 2nd March, 2024):

12:00pm – Barnes vs. Canterbury

2:30pm – Harleston Magpies vs. Slough

2:30pm – Surbiton 2s vs. Sevenoaks

3:30pm – Southgate vs. Wimbledon 2s

Image: Jon Goodall