By Lucas Ball
Holcombe played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Surbiton to start their Premier Division campaign.
The hosts took an early lead through Tom Russell before Luke Taylor and Alex Williams turned the game around, Holcombe earned a point through Phil Roper’s final-quarter equaliser.
Barry Middleton’s side started the game strongly as they forced Surbiton into mistakes with an energetic press.
Rob Field dragged an effort narrowly wide on the reverse before captain Nick Bandurak forced a good save from James Mazarelo at a penalty corner.
That start eventually paid dividends when Russell was on hand to deflect Hayden Phillips’ powerful strike past Mazarelo from close range to give Holcombe the advantage inside 15 minutes.
The lead did not last until the end of the quarter, however, as Luke Taylor superbly converted from the London side’s first penalty corner of the afternoon.
A quiet second quarter followed before a more frenetic, end-to-end second half with both sides looking to add to their respective tallies.
It was Surbiton who struck first in the second half when James Gall’s lifted pass was controlled excellently by Alex Williams in the circle who made no mistake in firing past England and Great Britain goalkeeper Ollie Payne.
Jake Owen and Bandurak almost combined for an equaliser soon after but the ball drifted agonisingly wide of the post before Holcombe appeals for a penalty stroke were waved away when Field appeared to be brought down as he hit a shot just wide.
At the other end, Surbiton flashed an effort past the far post as they looked to double their advantage, before coming close again at the start of the fourth quarter.
A trio of penalty corners for the home team followed, however, with the third resulting in Holcombe’s equaliser.
A slip routine saw the ball fall to Roper whose effort was deflected on the way through but bounced over the line for his first Holcombe goal.
Mazarelo was again called into action late on as he diverted a Bandurak effort onto the post, which ensured that both sides came away from the game with a point.
Holcombe face Hampstead & Westminster next weekend in the second part of a Premier Division double-header at Holcombe Park, while Mark Pearn’s outfit face East Grinstead at Sugden Road – both will be keen to register their first wins of the new campaign.