M1 Visit Holcombe On Sunday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men travel to Holcombe on Sunday to start their 2022-23 Men's Hockey League Premier Division campaign (push back 2 pm at Holcombe Park).
Surbiton crashed to a 3-0 defeat on their last visit to Holcombe Park in March as Jake Raben, Jake Owen and Nick Bandurak all found the net.
Yet honours were very much the other way when Holcombe visited Elmbridge last season with a 6-4 defeat in an entertaining match on opening day, followed up by a Top Six meeting in April which Surbiton dominated 7-1.
Surbiton have previously visited Holcombe on the first day of the season when Holcombe ran out 4-2 winners in 2016-17.
Bandurak has scored in the last four league matches at Holcombe Park, with a hat-trick in a 4-2 win in October 2017 followed by goals in losing causes in the next two games, Surbiton making a spectacular comeback after going down early in November 2018 to win 6-1. And although Hayden Phillips scored along with Bandurak in December 2019, a Luke Taylor hat-trick secured all three points for Surbiton.
Holcombe were promoted from the Conference East in 2014-15 and won the first meeting between the teams in Kent in November 2015, 3-1.
Over the last six seasons, Holcombe have won four, including the 3-2 victory in 2016-17 and only lost twice, 6-4 at Surbiton last season and 2-0 at Beeston in 2017-18.
Since that 3-2 opening defeat, Surbiton's have won their last five opening fixtures and frequently in style including a memorable 10-1 win at Reading in 2019-20, an 8-1 home demolition of Brooklands Manchester University in 2020-21 and a clinical 6-2 win at Canterbury in 2017-18.
There was one match played in the MHL Premier Division on Saturday night when Wimbledon ended Hampstead's run of six successive opening day victories with a 4-2 win at Paddington Recreation Ground.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the University of Exeter travel to East Grinstead looking for their first ever Premier Division win in West Sussex and to end a run of four successive opening Premier Division defeats, which started at home to East Grinstead in 2018-19 when they lost 4-1.
Oxted host Beeston at Caterham School and Beeston will be hoping to repeat the 2-1 victory at Oxted School last March.
Reading return to the Premier Division after two seasons in Division One South and are at home to Brooklands Manchester University. The fixture as a history of high scoring encounters including a 9-5 win for Reading in April 1999 when Mark Pearn and Ken Robinson both scored hat-tricks for the Berkshire club.
And like their women, University of Nottingham men begin their initial top flight campaign and have a daunting task against reigning champions, Old Georgians. The Surrey club also started against Nottingham opposition last season, beating Beeston 4-0 at St. George's College.