M1 Beat Holcombe 7-1
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men face a must win match at home to Wimbledon next Saturday if they are going to maintain their hopes of finishing second and qualifying for Europe next season.
Old Georgians won 5-0 at East Grinstead on Saturday night to lift their maiden Men's Hockey League Premier Division title, leaving Wimbledon and Surbiton to battle for runners-up spot.
Surbiton beat Holcombe 7-1 and Wimbledon beat Hampstead & Westminster 5-1 on Sunday afternoon to leave Wimbledon with a five point advantage over Surbiton with just two games to play.
Anything less than a victory over Wimbledon will see Surbiton miss out on the Euro Hockey League in the 2022-23 season.
Surbiton are guaranteed a top three finish as neither Hampstead or Holcombe can catch Surbiton following their defeats on Sunday.
Holcombe were without leading goalscorer Nick Bandurak and goalkeeper Ollie Payne on England FIH Pro League duty in India, as were Surbiton's David Goodfield, James Gall, Nick Park and Tom Sorsby.
Surbiton gave a debut to youngster Jack Hobkirk, who came on from the bench.
Surbiton played their first April regular season league fixture since 2008 when they beat Hampstead & Westminster 4-3 on a Tuesday night at Sugden Road after the scheduled Sunday fixture was postponed due to snow.
When Surbiton and Holcombe met on the opening day of the season last September, Surbiton had had to come back from 4-2 down to win 6-4, but nearly seven months later, it was all Surbiton from the start.
Holcombe conceded a penalty corner after just 33 seconds and Luke Taylor found the backboard in the second minute. Worse was to come in the fifth minute when Gareth Furlong doubled Surbiton's lead with another trademark drag-flick.
Holcombe were briefly back in contention in the 13th minute when Tim Guise-Brown showed he was equally adept at converting penalty corners from a re-award after his initial shot was blocked from the first set piece.
From that point, Surbiton largely dominated, Jamie Golden staying patient until in the right position to score their third goal after good approach play from Dave Bartram in the 22nd minute and Taylor scored his 20th goal of the season by converting the hosts' third penalty corner seven minutes later.
Holcombe were put under severe pressure towards the end of the first half with Alex Williams and Ben Boon forcing saves from Holcombe goalkeeper Andy Perkins, who also saved from Tim Nurse following a penetrating run from Rob Farrington.
Surbiton's penalty corner run ended two minutes before half time when Ali Bray stopped Furlong's drag-flick on the goal-line, but Holcombe still trailed 4-1 at the interval.
Surbiton kept up the pressure in the second half with Holcombe's Jake Owen having to transport the ball out of the visitors' circle and upfield and Bray blocking another shot.
In the 42nd minute, Perkins saved a Williams shot, but the rebound fell perfectly for Farrington to blast the ball into the net to put Surbiton 5-1 up.
In Surbiton's first match since British Summer Time started, the floodlights were needed midway through the third quarter as the sky darkened but without threat of rain.
Craig Wild had to make a deflection clearance as Surbiton maintained their attacking pressure and Ben Park was unlucky in the 49th minute as Perkins made another save following a brilliant passing move.
A minute later, Sam Spencer set up a scoring chance for Park to finish from close range and give Surbiton a 6-1 lead at the end of the third quarter.
There was only one further goal in the fourth quarter, Williams scoring Surbiton's seventh goal from short range in the penultimate minute to complete a convincing victory and avenge their 3-0 defeat at Holcombe Park in early March.
In the Bottom 5, which team is relegated to Division One is still in doubt after Durham University missed the opportunity to put pressure on the University of Exeter, going down 2-1 at Brooklands Manchester University.
Durham lead Exeter by two points but as this was Exeter's second bye week, the Devon university now have a game in hand.
Oxted cemented their seventh place by winning 4-0 at Beeston, who dropped to ninth, a point behind Brooklands, having played one game more.