M1 Start Season With 2-2 Draw At Holcombe
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men began the 2022-23 Men's Hockey League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Holcombe on Sunday afternoon.
it is the first time that Surbiton have drawn with Holcombe at Holcombe Park and it is the first opening day draw for Surbiton since 2008-09 when Surbiton drew 3-3 at home to Loughborough Students.
And more history was made as brothers Gareth and Rhodri Furlong were able to face each other across the hockey pitch in two successive MHL Premier Division matches as Rhodri had represented Hampstead & Westminster on April 23 at Paddington Recreation Ground in the last match of the 2021-22 season and after his transfer to Holcombe found Surbiton including brother Gareth were his new club's first opponents of the 2022-23 season.
Finally, across the weekend, married couple Jonny Gall and Steph Elliott both captained their respective first teams with Elliott having inherited the L1 captaincy at Loughborough Students the previous day.
James Mazarelo made his Surbiton debut in goal and made some excellent saves with Louis Gittens and Stuart Rushmere also wearing the Surbiton shirt for the first time.
Surbiton threatened early as Tim Nurse sent an angled cross across the Holcombe circle before the hosts settled into a rhythm, Tim Guise-Brown and Phil Roper linking on the left; and Holcombe won their first penalty corner in the sixth minute from which Mazarelo saved well from Nick Bandurak.
Guise-Brown nearly set up a breakaway goal for Tom Sorsby in the ninth minute but Sorsby couldn't quite take advantage and Alex Williams shot past the left post after a brilliant passing move a minute later.
But it was Holcombe who took the lead in the twelfth minute, Tom Russell getting the final touch to Hayden Phillips' shot although it was Phillips who was officially credited on the match report form.
Surbiton were back on level terms in the 18th minute when Luke Taylor opened his scoring account for the season from Surbiton's first penalty corner of the match, awarded after Ben Park was fouled following a run.
In the second quarter there was no further scoring with Barry Middleton stopping a Ben Boon attack, and Nick Park diving forward with a outstretched stick in an attempt to guide the ball into the goal.
Gittens set up Surbiton's second and last penalty corner of the match, but the visitors couldn't convert a second time and had to settle for a 1-1 scoreline at the interval.
Two minutes into the third quarter, Surbiton led for the first time, Alex Williams finishing superbly from James Gall's cross to give Ollie Payne no chance.
The third quarter saw chances at both ends with Jake Owen and Rob Field going close for Holcombe and James Gall shooting wide of the left post with Boon in the circle as Surbiton maintained their narrow one goal lead.
Holcombe were not to be denied in the fourth quarter and their equaliser came in the 59th minute after a run of three successive penalty corners. Bandurak and Guise-Brown were denied from the first two, but Phil Roper on his home debut fired the third home from the left of the circle to leave all to play for in the final ten minutes.
Boon had a shot saved by Payne and at the other end, Bandurak's run of scoring in the last four Holcombe-Surbiton clashes at Holcombe Park was ended by the post as both teams tried to find the winning goal under overcast skies.
But the teams had to settle for the only draw in the first round of Premier Division matches.
Wimbledon had won 4-2 at Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday night and on Sunday, reigning champions Old Georgians gave newly promoted University of Nottingham a baptism of fire, winning 8-1 at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
The other promoted team, Reading had better fortunes beating Brooklands Manchester University 4-2 at Sonning Lane.
Oxted beat Beeston 2-1 in the first match at Caterham School and East Grinstead won a close match, 3-2 at home to the University of Exeter.
East Grinstead are Surbiton's next opponents at 6.30 pm on 1 October following Surbiton Ladies' 4 pm clash in a double header at Sugden Road.