A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Match report – W1s 4-4 Team Bath Buccaneers (Vitality Division One South, 4th November, 2023)

By Lucas Ball

Holcombe extended their unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions with Saturday’s 4-4 home draw against Vitality Division One South strugglers Team Bath Buccaneers.

The hosts, on a four-game winning streak heading into this match, took an early lead through New Zealand international Deanna Ritchie but were quickly pegged back twice by the visitors before Ritchie equalised close to the end of the first quarter.

Australian Jade van der Zwan re-established the advantage for Nick Bandurak’s side with her first Holcombe goal early in the second half before two more quick fire Bath goals gave them the lead heading into the final period.

Phoebe Steele levelled from a penalty corner with just over 15 minutes to play but, despite Holcombe’s pressure, they were unable to find a winner and are now five points behind league leaders Surbiton 2s.

Lottie Bingham, impressive throughout, was the driving force for Ritchie’s first goal, brilliantly driving down the right wing and playing the ball across for the Kiwi to score her seventh goal in four matches.

Tilly Woodhead was called into action to deny a reverse effort minutes later, before saving another shot that led to a Buccaneers penalty corner.

Woodhead kept out the first before a re-award, making another save before the visitors were able to scramble home to equalise.

Another penalty corner gave Bath the lead soon after, the ball deflected in the back post from a variation.

Ritchie had Holcombe level as she made it a brace for herself on the stroke of quarter-time, hitting across goal with the goalkeeper miscuing her kick for the ball to end up in the goal.

Holcombe started to dominate in the second quarter but were unable to capitalise on a number of opportunities. van der Zwan couldn’t quite reach Bingham’s pass across goal before the latter saw a penalty corner effort saved.

van der Zwan also called the visitors’ ‘keeper into action just before the half-hour mark before Emma Bandurak drag-flicked wide minutes before the half-time break.

Bath almost made a fast start to the second half, hitting the post just two minutes in but it was Holcombe who re-took the lead. Bandurak opted for a low slap at a penalty corner which was deflected home by van der Zwan for her first in Holcombe colours.

The lead lasted just two minutes, however, as the visitors struck a powerful effort against the post before the rebound was lifted over Woodhead.

The Buccaneers had the lead before the end of the third quarter, too, as an attacker escaped her marker at the far post, superbly finishing from a drilled cross into the top corner.

Steele’s third goal of the season was enough to level the scores shortly into the final period, the New Zealander drag-flicking in from a penalty corner.

She was denied again on the hour mark from another set piece before Bandurak also saw a penalty corner strike saved from a variation.

Holcombe piled on the pressure but were unable to break down the visitors’ backline late on, the final chance of the match actually coming the way of Bath.

Woodhead made a brilliant save before they won a penalty corner, but the shot was wide.

Holcombe remain second in the table and face Canterbury at Holcombe Park on Saturday (2pm) as part of another double-header with Holcombe’s men also in action against Cardiff & Met (6pm). Entry is free and the matches will be streamed on Veo Live.

Team Bath Buccaneers, meanwhile, stay eighth in the table and are back at home this weekend against Wimbledon 2s (1pm), who they are level on points with, the Londoners’ goal difference currently superior by one.