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M1 Host Holcombe On Saturday Evening


17th February 2023

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Men are at Holcombe on Saturday evening, push back at Sugden Road is at 6 pm.

With both Wimbledon and Hampstead & Westminster not in action this weekend, due to Wimbledon's intention of competing indoors in Europe before their tournament was cancelled due to the tragedies in Turkey and Syria, Surbiton have the opportunity to move back in to second place, after Hampstead moved above them on goal difference following last weekend's resumption of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division.

Both Surbiton and Hampstead are eight points behind leaders Old Georgians in the Top Six after Old Georgians beat Surbiton 2-1 at St. George's College on Saturday and Hampstead beat Reading 5-0 at Paddington Recreation Ground.

Holcombe closed to within a point of Wimbledon and two points of Surbiton after their 3-2 win at Raynes Park High School last weekend and Holcombe will be keen to aim for another away win.

Holcombe haven't won at Sugden Road since March 2018, when they won 4-3 on the same day that Holcombe's women's team beat Surbiton Ladies 2-1 on a day when the Premier Division programme was decimated.

However, Holcombe ended a similar run last week at Wimbledon, winning in South West London for the first time since October 2018, so in spite of a run of four successive defeats at Sugden Road, Holcombe will be confident.

Surbiton were convincing winners in April 2022, when they won 7-1 after they had won 6-4 on the opening day of the 2021-22 season. Holcombe won their home fixture 3-0 and on the opening day of this season, the fixture at Holcombe Park ended in a 2-2 draw, Tom Russell giving Holcombe a first quarter lead before Luke Taylor and Alex Williams turned the match around for Surbiton to lead 2-1, Phil Roper salvaging a point.

Nick Bandurak has scored nearly half of Holcombe's goals this season, with 19 of the Kent club's 39 goal tally. Russell has scored five, with Tim Guise-Brown, Hayden Phillips and Roper each scoring three times. 

Robert Field, Barry Middleton, Tom O'Keeffe, Jake Owen, Louis Parker and Sam Taylor have also found the net once to prove that Holcombe do have other options besides Bandurak in attack.

Surbiton will want to bounce back after last week's narrow defeat to their Elmbridge rivals and at least ensure the gap between themselves and Old Georgians doesn't widen beyond the current eight points.

Old Georgians visit Reading on Saturday afternoon in the other scheduled Top Six fixture, knowing that they beat Reading 3-0 when the teams first met in Surrey in November.

In the Lower Six, where the top teams will join the Top Six teams in the playoffs, Beeston will want to cement their current two point advantage over Oxted when they entertain the University of Exeter at Nottingham Hockey Centre on Saturday afternoon. Exeter won 5-3 in Devon in November. 

Oxted are at home to Brooklands Manchester University, who battled to lead 3-1 at home to Beeston last weekend, only to go down 4-3 after former Surbiton player, Jamie Golden proved to be Brooklands' nemesis by scoring the winning goal for the second time this season. When Oxted travelled to the North West in October, they came out on top 5-4, exactly reversing the scoreline from the meeting the previous April, when Brooklands won 5-4 in Surrey.

East Grinstead travel to Nottingham Hockey centre to face the University of Nottingham and will want to improve on their home performance in November when Nottingham won 4-1 at Saint Hill.

In the Vitality Women's Hockey League, Surbiton Ladies are without a fixture this weekend as East Grinstead are competing in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Cambrai. East Grinstead beat Swansea 5-0 in their opening fixture and then drew 3-3 with WAC of Austria on Friday.

Wimbledon can close to within five points of Surbiton if they win at Clifton Robinsons, where they have won on the last two occasions by a 2-1 scoreline. Beeston, who suffered a surprise 7-1 home defeat at the hands of East Grinstead, travel to play Hampstead & Westminster at Paddington Recreation Ground, where they won 2-0 last season. Hampstead won 3-0 at Nottingham Hockey Centre in December.

In the Lower Six, the top two, Loughborough Students and Reading meet in Leicestershire. Loughborough lead Reading by a single point and the University of Birmingham, who are three points of the lead, can move up to second with a home win over the University of Nottingham and a Reading defeat.

Reading beat Loughborough 2-1 in Berkshire in December and Birmingham won 4-2 at Nottingham Hockey Centre back in October.

The other fixture sees Buckingham at home to Holcombe. Buckingham have only won one game out of twelve this season, but they are only six points from safety and will hope to close the current five point gap with a win over Holcombe. Holcombe won 3-1 in October.