M1 Leave It Late To Win At Holcombe
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men left it late to beat Holcombe 3-2 and maintain their one hundred per cent record at the top of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division.
On a dark day weatherwise under the Holcombe Park floodlights, Surbiton were pegged back twice before Luke Taylor scored the winning goal in the 69th minute to complete a hat-trick of penalty corner conversions.
On Saturday night, results had gone in Surbiton's favour with second placed Wimbledon losing 2-1 at home to Hampstead & Westminster and third placed Old Georgians drawing 4-4 at Reading.
With the sun having disappeared behind cloud shortly before push back and the floodlights needed, Holcombe couldn't match their feat of last season of scoring in the first minute, but after a promising attack, they thought they'd scored in the second minute.
Both teams attacked well but found their opposing defences too tough to break down with James Royce and Ben Boon combining well for Surbiton and Barry Middleton and Robert Field doing the same for Holcombe.
Royce and Zach Wallace forced a long corner whilst Holcombe's Harry Trusler showed great control, keeping possession after losing his footing to keep his team's attack alive.
The first goal came at the end of the first quarter, Taylor converting Surbiton's first penalty corner before the teams walked off for the quarter break.
Early in the second quarter, Taylor forced a fine glove save from home goalkeeper, Richard Curtis, but in the 20th minute, Hayden Phillips went close to equalising from Nick Banduarak's pass before having a second chance from the next attack, turning the ball in at the left post.
The teams remained level at half time, but Taylor struck again in the 43rd minute to restore Surbiton's lead at 2-1.
Holcombe forced their first penalty corner in the 64th minute and from the next, Bandurak scored in emphatic fashion to leave Surbiton's maximum point under threat and give Holcombe hope that they could emulate the University of Birmingham's achievement the previous day at Sugden Road of being the first team to take league points off a Surbiton first team this season.
However Bandurak's tenth goal of the campaign was not enough as Taylor converted the visitors' tenth penalty corner in the 69th minute to give Surbiton the win and give their supporters something to celebrate.
The goal also moved Taylor to the top of the Premier Division goalscoring charts with his seventeenth goal of the season, one ahead of Wimbledon's Ed Horler.
Surbiton now lead second placed Wimbledon by nine points with a game in hand and Old Georgians by nine points having played the same number of games.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Beeston took advantage of Holcombe's defeat to move up to fifth with a 3-1 home win over Brooklands Manchester University.
The University of Exeter restored their two point advantage over bottom club Reading with a 2-2 home draw with East Grinstead.
Surbiton play their last league match before the mid-season break when they welcome the University of Exeter to Sugden Road next Saturday (push back 4.30 pm).