A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – M1s 0-1 Hampstead & Westminster (Premier Division Phase Three Pool A, 16th March, 2024)

By Lucas Ball

Holcombe suffered defeat in their first Premier Division Phase Three Pool A match as Hampstead & Westminster beat Barry Middleton’s side 1-0 at Holcombe Park on Saturday evening courtesy of Jolyon Morgan’s third-quarter goal.

The defeat leaves Holcs’ hopes of qualifying for League Finals and therefore next season’s Euro Hockey League (EHL) hanging in the balance, as they now need to beat Beeston and likely win at league leaders Old Georgians on the final day – though will be encouraged by Beeston leading three times and scoring four in a one-goal defeat at St. George’s College on Saturday.

The visitors had goalkeeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill to thank, the Great Britain and Wales international making a string of superb saves throughout the match to keep their clean sheet intact, with Holcs unable to find a way to beat the goalkeeper, ending a run of five consecutive victories against Hampstead since the start of last season.

Tim Guise-Brown forced Reynolds-Cotterill into action inside just four minutes as he saved at a penalty corer, with Hayden Phillips also seeing a shot saved just five minutes later.

The Welsh ‘keeper denied Guise-Brown again brilliantly from another corner with just over 10 minutes played as Holcombe looked to press home their early dominance.

The first chance of the second half, though, did come the way of the visitors with Ollie Payne making a good stop, before it was Reynolds-Cotterill’s turn again as he tipped a powerful Rob Field effort around the post.

Alex Pendle, too, put a shot just over the bar with around five minutes left in the first half, meaning the two teams went in goalless.

Holcombe’s high intensity dropped slightly in the second half and the visitors took the lead inside the first five minutes of the second half, a penalty corner routine hitting Barry Middleton on the line, the umpire initially awarding a penalty stroke before the ball dropped in and the goal was given controversially.

That was the only real chance in a quiet third quarter, with the fourth period much the same as Hampstead sat in to defend their advantage, with Holcombe struggling to break the visitors down.

A penalty corner did eventually come with just three minutes left to play but was well-defended as Andrew Wilson’s team held on for the three points.

The defeat leaves Holcombe bottom of Pool A, with Old Georgians top, Hampstead & Westminster second and Beeston, who Holcs face this Saturday, third.

Holcs won 10-0 against Beeston in Phase One and will be in action once more as Holcombe Park plays host to another first-team double-header, with Holcombe’s women out to seal promotion back to the Premier Division at the first attempt on Saturday afternoon (2pm) before the Beeston clash (6pm) – entry is free for both matches.