By Lucas Ball
Holcombe made it nine wins from a possible 11 in Phase One of the Premier Division with a statement 5-1 success over Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday evening courtesy of goals from Tim Guise-Brown (2), Nick Bandurak, Phil Roper and Tom Russell.
Both sides were already assured of their top-six spots ahead of the fixture alongside Old Georgians, Surbiton, Wimbledon and Southgate, with the visitors heading into the match three points ahead of the Londoners.
The hosts started well, forcing an early save from FIH Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Ollie Payne at a penalty corner but it was Barry Middleton’s side who opened the scoring in the first quarter.
Holcombe saw a penalty corner of their own stopped illegally on the line, giving top-scorer Bandurak the chance to add to his tally from the penalty spot. The England and Great Britain international made no mistake, beating Toby Reynolds-Cotterill.
Three successive penalty corners followed soon after for the away side, the third finding its way into the goal courtesy of Guise-Brown against his brother’s, Matt Guise-Brown’s, team.
Payne was again forced into action early in the second quarter before Guise-Brown scored again from a penalty corner after a neatly-worked variation.
Hampstead started to claw their way back into the game and saw another penalty corner effort saved by Payne before the rebound was stopped illegally on the line for another penalty stroke.
There was no mistake from the spot as Payne was denied a fifth clean sheet of the campaign.
Reynolds-Cotterill denied Middleton’s men a fourth early in the second half before Payne made another good save in open play.
Roper almost added an incredible solo goal following a mazy run down the left but the hosts’ goalkeeper was in the way once more.
The former Wimbledon man was not to be denied five minutes later, however, beating a number of defenders again before pushing home for Holcombe’s fourth.
The Londoners should have had a second early in the final period but Payne was in superb form once more to deny them from point-blank range before Alex Pendle saw an effort saved at the other end.
Russell, already into double figures for the season alongside Bandurak and Roper, flicked a shot narrowly wide with a couple of minutes to play but there was no denying him a goal when a quick, flowing attack found Pendle in space, the Elite Development Programme linking up for Russell to slap home on the slide.
Holcombe’s indoor fixtures for their Premier Division campaign in January were announced over the weekend, while fixtures for Phase Two – where they will only face their fellow top-six sides are to be confirmed.