By Lucas Ball
Holcombe’s unbeaten start came to an end on Thursday night as they were defeated 2-1 by reigning Premier Division champions Old Georgians.
In front of a large crowd, Barry Middleton’s side started slowly and found themselves with work to do early on, conceding after just three minutes to an excellent James Albery strike having failed to clear their lines properly.
By the end of the first quarter, Great Britain international James Carson had made it 2-0 to the visitors, but it could have been more were it not for two good saves from Ollie Payne.
Albery finished off a counter-attack after the hosts gave the ball away cheaply in midfield, making Holcombe pay for their slow start.
The second quarter was much quieter as Holcombe grew into the game in terms of possession, the sole chance coming from an Old Georgians’ penalty corner, which was well-defended.
Eight minutes into the second half, Holcombe had a lifeline. A bouncing ball into the circle wasn’t controlled by any defenders and fell to Nick Bandurak, whose first touch gave him the space to finish powerfully past ex-Holcombe goalkeeper George Pinner.
The biggest chances following that goal, however, came the way of the away side until the last knockings. A number of penalty corners were kept out and Payne also made a superb diving stop to deny Brett Garrard’s side a third.
With four minutes to play, Holcombe were given an advantage with Old Georgians picking up a yellow card and thought they had made that advantage pay with two minutes left on the clock, but Bandurak’s goal from close-range was disallowed for a foul in the circle.
Middleton’s side won a penalty corner on the full-time whistle but the injection was mis-hit and the champions were able to clear the ball to seal the three points.
Holcombe move on to another double-header on Saturday as both their first-team sides face Surbiton at Sugden Road, the women at 3:30pm and the men at 6pm. Old Georgians face Wimbledon as both of last season’s Premier Division Finals Weekend semi-finals are repeated.