A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – W1s 3-1 Wimbledon 2s (Division One South, 23rd March, 2024)

By Lucas Ball

Holcombe secured a return to Premier Division hockey at the first attempt as Nick Bandurak’s side beat Wimbledon 2s 3-1 at Holcombe Park on Saturday afternoon courtesy of a Leisa Randall brace and a Phoebe Steele goal.

With promotion following on from Holcombe’s Super 6s Division One triumph in January, the club are now one of just two teams in the country to support two first-teams who play Premier Division hockey in both the indoor and outdoor set-up.

Banndurak’s team also became the first outfit – men’s or women’s – to make an immediate return to the top-flight since Buckingham, who were relegated alongside Holcombe last season, won promotion back to the Premier Division in 2016/17 following their relegation a year earlier.

Randall’s first-quarter goal calmed the nerves slightly at Holcombe Park, with Holcombe knowing a win made other results irrelevant as Barnes, even if they beat champions Surbiton 2s – which they did – could not catch Holcs.

It was two before half-time as Randall doubled her and Holcombe’s tally with her seventh goal of the season before Steele added her 13th of the campaign shortly after half-time.

The visitors pulled a goal back with seven minutes to go through a Petra Barr penalty stroke but Holcombe comfortably held on for three points and promotion to kickstart the party at Holcombe Park.

Deanna Ritchie had already forced a save from Katherine Don-Wauchope with a close-range snapshot before the opening goal. Lottie Bingham, who so often terrorises defences, drove through the heart of the Wimbledon defence before finding Tilly Tillings in the circle, the forward unselfishly passing across goal for Randall to tap home to cap off a superb move.

The game was temporarily halted in the second quarter due to hail before play restarted with around 11 minutes to go in the second period, Randall adding her second five minutes later with the slightest of deflections past Don-Wauchope from Emma Bandurak’s hit into the circle.

Two minutes later, it could have been three. Bingham was once again involved as she found Marian Ledesma in the circle who played the ball across goal, with Ritchie then deflecting just wide at the back post.

Tillings saw two chances come her way in the space of a couple of minutes as she forced another good save from Don-Wauchope on the reverse before seeing a close-range effort kept out having been played through by Ritchie, who caused problems whenever she dropped deep to collect the ball and hold up the play.

Steele converted from a penalty corner less than four minutes into the second half to finally put the game beyond doubt before an end-to-end spell in an exciting third quarter.

First, Tilly Woodhead did brilliantly to clear with a Wimbledon forward rushing into the circle before Hannah Bond slid an effort just wide of the far post.

It was then Woodhead in action again as she made two brilliant saves in the space of two minutes to keep Holcombe’s clean sheet intact.

Bandurak almost added a fourth from a penalty corner as Don-Wauchope made a good save following a deflection off the foot of the number one runner before the re-award was flicked wide by the defender.

Holcombe could have added to their tally in the fourth quarter as another penalty corner was well-defended before Ritchie hit a reverse just wide.

Catherine Ledesma then forced a good save on the reverse from Don-Wauchope before Ritchie tried to lob the goalkeeper from the rebound and was denied by a good stop.

Woodhead then made another good save from a hit but had little chance with a penalty stroke less than sixty seconds later after Bandurak made a foul in the circle.

Barr stepped up and converted to reduce the arrears as a few nerves crept in for Holcombe, knowing they would be down to 10 players for five of the last seven minutes after Bandurak was given a yellow card.

However, Bandurak’s side kept the ball well for large spells to eat up the clock in the final minutes and held on to win by two goals in front of a jubilant terrace, sparking scenes of celebration on and off-the-pitch.

Holcombe were promoted to the Super 6s Premier Division alongside Sutton Coldfield who will also join them in the Premier Division for outdoor hockey next season after they won Division One North.

Bandurak’s side will definitely face Sutton Coldfield, Loughborough Students, the University of Nottingham, Clifton Robinsons, Hampstead & Westminster, Surbiton, East Grinstead, Reading, Wimbledon and Bowdon in the Premier Division next season, as well as either Beeston or the University of Birmingham, depending on who secures survival in two weeks’ time.

Final Division One South table:

PositionTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostGoals ForGoals AgainstGoal DifferencePoints
1Surbiton 2s18141352272543
5Harleston Magpies187382834-624
8Wimbledon 2s1851123146-1516
10Team Bath Buccaneers1833122346-2312