By Lucas Ball
Holcombe reached the semi-finals of the England Hockey Tier One Cup by beating Wimbledon 2s 4-3 at Holcombe Park on Sunday afternoon courtesy of goals from Jade van der Zwan (2), Emma Bandurak and Hattie Jones.
The two sides met last weekend in the Vitality Division One South and were due to face Southgate and Barnes respectively on Saturday but both games were postponed due to the weather.
Second-placed Holcombe won the previous match 5-1 at Raynes Park High School, this encounter much closer than the league game.
Hannah Bond came closest to opening the scoring for the hosts, driving in from the left after good work from van der Zwan, forcing a save from Katherine Don-Wauchope.
Phoebe Barnett gave the visitors a first-quarter lead with just over a minute to play in a low-key opening period.
Holcombe started the second quarter quickly, van der Zwan playing a dangerous ball across goal which evaded everyone before Tilly Tillings – looking for her first Holcombe goal – was twice denied by Don-Wauchope.
Wimbledon also came close on the counter, deflecting just wide around five minutes into the second period.
Two minutes later, Holcombe were level as van der Zwan expertly deflected captain Harriet Pittard’s slap home.
Soon after, Nick Bandurak’s side – coached by Rob Brunt with Bandurak away on international duty – won another penalty corner, this one stopped illegally on the line by a defender.
Emma Bandurak made no mistake from the spot as Holcombe completed a quick fire turnaround.
Catherine Ledesma almost extended Holcombe’s lead but her reverse effort was deflected over the bar by a defender after a mazy run into the circle before Phoebe Steele twice came close from two penalty corners just before half-time.
The first of those hit the post before a re-award was stopped on the line, though the whistle was blown for a lifted shot on the second.
Catherine Ledesma once again came close before Marian Ledesma had a goal disallowed at the start of the second half before Tilly Woodhead was forced into action at the other end, stopping a reverse before Becky Manton fired a loopy reverse into the top corner to level the tie.
van der Zwan hit a reverse just wide as Holcombe looked to quickly re-establish their lead with 40 minutes on the clock.
It was another penalty corner that led to Brunt’s side re-taking the lead, an initial effort deflected across goal for injector Jones to tap in at the back post.
The hosts almost doubled their advantage less than five minutes later when Bond saw a hit deflected before Charlotte Daly was denied by Don-Wauchope.
Manton hit another reverse effort off-target close to the end of the quarter as Holcombe headed into the final period a goal to the good.
Woodhead made a great save to deny the visitors an equaliser early in the fourth quarter.
With nine minutes remaining, van der Zwan had her second. The Australian broke into the circle and looked to square the ball across goal, the ball deflecting off a defender’s stick and into the goal.
Holcombe were twice denied as they looked for a fifth before Wimbledon started to push further forward with five minutes to go.
Woodhead made another good save before the visitors controversially halved the deficit with three minutes remaining. The England under-18 goalkeeper appeared to be obstructed before Emily Barker was able to squeeze the ball in.
Wimbledon squandered a penalty corner just a minute later as the ball hit their own player’s foot in the circle, meaning Holcombe were able to hold on to reach the last-four.
They now head into the winter break and will play in the Super 6s Division One in January as they aim for a return to Premier Division hockey in both indoor and outdoor this season.