By Lucas Ball
It was late heartbreak for Holcombe women over the weekend as two late Surbiton goals turned their Vitality Division One South encounter on its head.
The visitors had led for much of the game having taken the lead midway through the second quarter – Emma Bandurak’s penalty corner effort finding its way through to make it two goals in two games for the defender.
Nick Bandurak’s side would have made it six points out of six had they held on following last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Southgate, but the hosts struck twice in the final six minutes to ensure the visitors left empty-handed.
First, Charlotte Calnan converted a penalty stroke past the again impressive Tilly Woodhead after a Surbiton player was fouled in the circle as they were about to shoot before Amie Hunt finished from close rage just a minute later.
The main chances of the first quarter came Surbiton’s way with one penalty corner effort saved by Woodhead and another kept out thanks to some superb defending, with Holcombe taking a while to settle into the match.
The second quarter, however, saw the away side dominate and they could have held a stronger lead at the half-time break had they converted some of their chances.
Deanna Ritchie was causing the Surbiton backline all kinds of problems, first having two efforts kept out following Bandurak’s pass across goal before the New Zealand international made a driving run into the circle and saw another effort saved.
Jade van der Zwan nearly found fellow new signing Lottie Bingham in space at the far post, too, but the ‘keeper came out well to save before the ball reached the England under-21 international.
Ritchie also had a powerful effort denied after Surbiton had a goal disallowed when a ball from outside the circle ended up in the goal, despite claims of a touch from a forward player.
Woodhead was also called into action once more to deny a stinging reverse effort from an awkward angle before the break.
The third quarter was much more even, with Holcombe starting well. Catherine Ledesma and Bandurak both saw efforts saved early on before the hosts started to come back into things, Woodhead once more saving from point-blank range to keep her clean sheet intact.
A succession of Surbiton penalty corners followed but were all kept out, with Holcombe counter-attacking to create a couple of chances of their own. Tilly Tillings, another summer signing, came close to her first goal when a powerful drive was smartly-saved and Ledesma also deflected narrowly wide from van der Zwan’s pass, either side of the hosts having another goal ruled out, this time for a dangerous cross into the circle.
Surbiton threw players forward in the fourth quarter to create overloads and the pressure finally told, but not before Bingham made a driving run into the circle and fired just wide as Bandurak’s side looked to double their advantage.
Woodhead made two more super stops at Surbiton penalty corners to keep her side in front, but there was nothing she could do to stop Calnan’s penalty stroke just a few minutes later.
Bad turned to worse for Holcombe when Hunt finished from close range and despite substituting Woodhead to create an outfield advantage, the visitors could not make their extra player count in the final few minutes.
Holcombe play their first home match of their 2023/24 league campaign this Saturday at Holcombe Park (5pm) against Sevenoaks, where entry is free.