A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – W1s 2-2 Surbiton 2s (Division One South, 18th February, 2024)

By Lucas Ball

It was the late, late show for Holcombe on Sunday afternoon as Nick Bandurak’s side came back from two goals down to salvage a draw against Division One South leaders Surbiton 2s at Holcombe Park.

A first-half brace from Hannah Denison had put the away side into a commanding lead but goals from Lottie Bingham and Phoebe Steele ensured that Holcombe became the first side to come away from a game with Surbiton 2s this season with any points, ending the leaders’ 100% record 13 games in.

Both teams had chances in the first quarter after a quiet first 10 minutes, Tilly Tillings teeing up Hannah Carney who forced Jemma Woods into a save with a hit, before Deanna Ritchie also deflecting an effort on target and seeing Woods deny her a second goal in as many matches and days.

Tilly Woodhead was soon in action at the other end, making a comfortable save before Surbiton took the lead with around a minute left to play in the opening quarter through Denison.

A slap into the circle was deflected into Denison’s path, she expertly controlled and spun before unleashing a powerful strike past the outstretched Woodhead to give Will Fulker’s side the advantage.

Holcombe saw good number one running stop a penalty corner effort early on in the second period before Denison doubled her tally from close range – loose marking giving her the chance to deflect home easily on the back post.

Ritchie forced Woods into another save minutes later as Holcombe looked to halve the deficit before Emma Bandurak saw another penalty corner effort denied.

The deficit was almost reduced less than five minutes into the third quarter when Bandurak came close from consecutive penalty corners but Woodhead was soon back in action to deny the visitors a third.

It wasn’t until the last 30 seconds of the period that Holcombe scored, Bingham deflecting in from Bandurak’s slap at another penalty corner, giving Holcombe and the vociferous terrace crowd renewed hope heading into the final 17-and-a-half minutes.

Holcombe moved the ball well throughout the first three quarters of the pitch in the fourth quarter but struggled to find the right final pass or touch into more dangerous areas and the circle, Surbiton defending well.

Woodhead was taken off with just over three minutes to play as Bandurak bravely switched to 11 outfield players, before a green card for brace-scorer Denison gave Holcs a two-player advantage outfield.

It was that advantage that allowed them to create overloads to win a penalty corner in the last two minutes, with Phoebe Steele’s drag-flick deflecting in off a defender’s foot as the New Zealander scored her ninth league goal of the season, reaching double figures in all competitions.

The hard-earned draw extends Holcombe’s unbeaten run to five matches in the league and gives Bandurak’s side a two-point advantage over Barnes in the promotion race, who they face on Saturday, 16th March at Holcombe Park in their penultimate Division One South fixture of 2023/24.

This weekend, Holcombe will face Harleston Magpies (2pm Saturday) at Holcombe Park ahead of fixtures for our M2s (4pm) and M1s (6pm) while Barnes take on Southgate.