By Lucas Ball
Holcombe were knocked out of the Euro Hockey League (EHL) at the KO8 stage with Sunday’s defeat to hosts Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.
Barry Middleton’s side progressed to the KO8 following Friday’s 4-2 win over Racing Club de France, with the Spanish side defeating French champions CA Montrouge 4-1.
Carlos Garcia Cuenca’s team took the lead inside 30 seconds. Great Britain goalkeeper Ollie Payne made a double save but the attack stayed alive and Guillermo Fortuño was on hand to poke home from close range.
Holcombe came back into the game but the hosts sat back, limiting their ability to create chances from open play against a low block.
They did, though, come close through two penalty corners with Tim Guise-Brown hitting the post before Nick Bandurak saw another corner effort saved by Luis Calzado.
Polo also had two corners of their own before half-time but they were well-defended by Holcombe.
The third quarter saw Holcombe try to push forward without creating any clear-cut chances, with opportunities also limited in the final quarter as the pressure took its toll, with some passes just a fraction off and a couple of loose touches costing Holcombe chances.
Two late green cards made the last ten minutes difficult before Middleton’s side won two late penalty corners, the first mis-trapped at the top of the circle before the second forced a good save. They were perhap unlucky not to have one more corner opportunity when Calzado appeared to push the ball off the backline from the second corner.
Holcombe are back in action on Saturday in the Premier Division against Oxted (6pm) as part of the first, first-team double-header of the season with Holcombe’s women in Vitality Division One South action against Slough at 2pm. Entry is free and live updates will be available on social media.