By Lucas Ball
Holcombe made it 22 goals scored in their last two matches as Barry Middleton’s side thrashed out-of-form Beeston 10-0 on Saturday evening to secure their top-six spot for Phase Two of the Premier Division season alongside Old Georgians, Surbiton, Wimbledon and Hampstead & Westminster.
Fresh from scoring 12 against the University of Nottingham last weekend, Holcombe got off to a flyer with three goals in the first eight minutes from Nick Bandurak, Phil Roper and Tom Russell.
Roper, Alex Pendle and Rob Field added to the score before half-time to give the hosts a six-goal lead before Russell added two more for a hat-trick in the second half, alongside another goal from Bandurak and one from Sam Taylor.
Beeston have now conceded 35 goals in their last four matches and face another tough match at home to Hampstead & Westminster this weekend, the London side currently fifth in the table.
Holcombe were the clear favourites heading into the game and a blistering start soon removed any jeopardy from the match, the away side stunned and unable to get back into the game, rarely threatening following that early Holcombe flurry, despite forcing Ollie Payne into action inside the first minute.
Bandurak fired over just a minute later before scoring superbly. He brilliantly controlled a Taylor aerial into the circle, before lifting over the onrushing Taylor Craigie.
Roper saw a goal disallowed controversially soon after, the umpire ruling that he was outside the circle but there was no doubting his strike two minutes later. Middleton brilliantly tackled high up the pitch before finding Bandurak who played in Roper, the Great Britain forward hitting powerfully across goal into the far corner.
Hayden Phillips forced a good save from the ‘keeper in the build-up to the third goal for Holcombe, Rhodri Furlong eventually picking the ball up on the edge of the circle, pushing into a dangerous area for Russell to deflect home.
A slick move fed the ball to Roper in space early in the second quarter, the former Wimbledon man making no mistake as he fired in on the reverse clinically before another excellent move, this time down the right-hand-side, saw Middleton feed Russell, the latter squaring for Alex Pendle to score his fifth goal in four matches.
Pendle almost made it a third brace in Holcombe colours just before the half-hour mark as he hit a powerful effort wide from the top of the circle, with Beeston forcing Payne into a superb stop from a penalty corner just after.
A penalty corner at the other end led to Holcombe’s sixth as Field drag-flicked past Craigie to make it six before half-time.
Bandurak almost teed up Roper for a hat-trick as he flashed a reverse across goal, before Guise-Brown drag-flicked over the bar and Bandurak was twice denied all in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
Russell deflected in from Bandurak’s hit midway through the quarter to extend Holcombe’s advantage, before Bandurak scored his 16th of the season two minutes later after Taylor delicately set up the Holcombe captain.
Russell completed his hat-trick before the end of the third quarter, sliding to slap home from Field’s pass across goal after a fast counter-attack.
Bandurak saw a drag-flick saved around five minutes into the final period, with Taylor picking up the rebound to score his third goal of the season, before Beeston had a mini-resurgence in the final ten minutes, forcing Payne to make a couple of saves.
Holcombe are at home again on Saturday as part of another double-header, the women in action against Kent rivals Canterbury at 2pm before Middleton’s side take on 10th-placed Cardiff & Met at 6pm, who have lost their last three matches – conceding 21 goals in the process.
Beeston take on Hampstead & Westminster at the Nottingham Hockey Centre at 6pm on Saturday, looking for their first win since October 14th, when they beat pointless University of Nottingham 4-0 in a local derby.