A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – W1s 1-2 Harleston Magpies (Division One South, 24th February, 2024)

By Lucas Ball

Holcombe lost ground in the race for promotion as Nick Bandurak’s side lost 2-1 to ever-improving Harleston Magpies at Holcombe Park on Saturday afternoon.

Jess Howland gave the visitors the lead after just six minutes before Phoebe Steele equalised at the end of the third quarter for Holcombe. Hannah de Selincourt scored the winner with 11 minutes left on the clock to give Harleston their fourth straight win.

With Barnes winning 3-0 at home to Southgate, Omar Shibli’s side are now a point above Holcombe in second with four games to play, though the two sides do still have to meet at Holcombe Park on the penultimate weekend, ahead of Barnes facing league leaders Surbiton 2s on the last day.

Deanna Ritchie and Lottie Bingham both forced saves from Georgia Flatt within the first minute as Holcs looked for a fast start, but the Magpies – coached by former Holcombe player and assistant coach Adnan Zakir – took the lead on six minutes through Howland, a powerful strike hitting the backboard from a penalty corner.

Steele drag-flicked wide from a corner at the other end just a couple of minutes later before Tilly Woodhead saved at another corner to deny the visitors a second.

The second quarter was a low-key affair with all three chances of note coming within a sixty-second period – Woodhead made a double-save before Harleston won a penalty corner, the goalkeeper then saving onto the bar at the resulting corner after a deflection.

Holcombe dominated possession throughout the third period but struggled to create too many clear-cut chances. Ritchie slapped just wide from a cross-cum-shot with Holcombe players not quite supporting the New Zealander quickly enough, before Bethan Hodges came close to scoring her first outdoor Holcombe goal.

Catherine Ledesma then had a goal controversially disallowed before Steele drag-flicked home to give Holcs renewed hope heading into the last period.

Tilly Tillings and Bingham linked up well to tee up Ritchie once more with just over 10 minutes to play, the forward coming close to finishing but it was heartbreak for Bandurak’s side with two minutes remaining.

A defensive mis-trap at the top of the circle gave de Selincourt the chance to score, the Magpies forward squeezing the ball under the onrushing Woodhead to give Zakir’s side the lead.

Holcombe had a chance to equalise on the final whistle but Steele’s drag-flick was saved.

Holcombe head to Bath this weekend to face Team Bath Buccaneers, while promotion rivals Barnes take on Canterbury at Dukes Meadow.