A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – M1s 5-2 Beeston (Premier Division Phase Three Pool A, 23rd March, 2023)

By Lucas Ball

It was a fast start from Holcombe that earned Barry Middleton’s men a first win of Phase Three of their Premier Division season as they beat Beeston 5-2 at Holcombe Park on Saturday evening.

Returning captain Nick Bandurak scored after just three minutes in his first Holcs appearance since November, with Tim Guise-Brown doubling the advantage just four minutes later. Bandurak added another midway through the third quarter before four goals game in an exciting final period, with Tom Russell and Alex Pendle both scoring late on.

The win leaves Holcombe second in Pool A, needing a top-two finish to secure a spot at League Finals weekend. Middleton’s side are three points behind Old Georgians who have won both Phase Three matches and ahead of Hampstead & Westminster on goal difference. Beeston sit bottom of the group.

Holcs travel to Old Georgians on the final day in two weekends’ time, likely needing a first win against the perennial champions since 2020 to secure a berth at the end-of-season showcase event and have a chance at qualifying for next season’s Euro Hockey League (EHL).

Bandurak got the scoring underway with a powerful finish from close-range early on before Guise-Brown doubled the lead with an incredible drag-flick into the top-corner minutes later.

The fast start could have seen Holcombe score more, too, as Pendle was denied by Taylor Craigie from close-range inside the opening quarter of an hour.

Henry Croft started to cause Holcs some problems in the second period and hit a powerful shot off-target before forcing Ollie Payne into a good save but it was the hosts who ended the half more strongly, with Craigie denying Bandurak from a penalty corner.

Bandurak’s second goal was special, taking the ball down, letting it drop and unleashing an upright backhand half-volley into the far corner to leave Craigie with no chance in the only real action of the third quarter.

With around nine minutes to play, Craigie upended a Holcombe player in the circle to give away a penalty stroke which Bandurak bruised the crossbar with before Russell added a fourth and his 13th outdoor goal of the season, finishing past Craigie after Bandurak launched a mammoth cross-field aerial.

Beeston pulled one back from a penalty corner of their own with four minutes to go but the scoring wasn’t over.

Pendle finished from close range on 68 minutes from Russell’s cross to restore Holcombe’s four goal advantage before Croft scored Beeston’s second as the game enjoyed a crazy ending.

With a week off now for Easter, Holcombe travel to St. George’s College on Saturday, 6th April to face Old Georgians.