A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – M1s 0-1 Surbiton (Premier Division Phase Two Top Six, 24th February, 2024)

By Lucas Ball

Holcombe suffered a second Premier Division Phase Two defeat in as many matches as Surbiton ran out 1-0 winners at Holcombe Park on Saturday evening, courtesy of Conor Williamson’s goal.

Barry Middleton’s side were missing both Nick Bandurak and Phil Roper against the second-placed side and dropped to fourth with Wimbledon also victorious against Southgate.

The first chances of the game came the way of the visitors via a string of penalty corners, the closest the London side came was from a Luke Taylor drag-flick, Middleton clearing off-the-line.

Tom Russell forced James Mazarelo into action from close range soon after before a driving run from Rob Field almost teed up Russell again, Surbiton managing to hold out in defence to keep their clean sheet intact.

Another couple of penalty corners followed for Mark Pearn’s side, one defended and the other saved by Ollie Payne to deny Gareth Furlong, who scored twice against Holcombe in the reverse fixture in Phase One.

As the game edged towards half-time, Sam Taylor stopped a powerful Tim Nurse effort on the line as Holcs conceded yet another penalty corner, this one defended comfortably after a mis-trap at the top of the circle.

Jake Owen was denied a chance at the other end by some superb defending before Taylor was once again the hero at the back, diving across goal to deflect a dangerous cutback out of play.

Midway through the third period, the visitors did finally break the deadlock.

Taylor was denied from another corner with the rebound falling to Williamson, who smashed past Payne from close range.

Payne saved well again to deny Nurse soon after before an immense double save, stopping a deflection as he closed the attacker down before diving and reaching upwards to palm a second effort over the bar.

Holcombe’s best chance for an equaliser came as Hayden Phillips teed up Tom O’Keeffe, but Mazarelo spread well to deny the forward a second Premier Division goal of the season.

More heroics from Payne stopped the visitors from extending their lead late on as he made multiple saves in quick succession, with Pearn’s side holding on for all three points as they ensured the gap to Old Georgians remained at just three points at the top.

Holcombe are now three points behind Thursday night’s opponents Wimbledon.