Taylor Earns M1 A 3-2 Home Win Over Holcombe
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men moved back up to second in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division Top Six table but only after Luke Taylor converted a penalty corner in the penultimate minute to earn a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Holcombe at Sugden Road on Saturday evening.
Holcombe had won 3-2 at Wimbledon a week earlier and but for Phil Roper's penalty stroke being superbly saved by James Mazarelo in the third quarter, Holcombe could have led 3-2 after fighting back from a 2-0 deficit in the first half to level at 2-2 by the end of the third quarter.
The previous two meetings at Sugden Road had seen Surbiton win 7-1 and 6-4, but with defences largely on top in the first quarter despite both teams having attacking intent, the game was always likely to be a tight encounter.
Holcombe's Rhodri Furlong stopped a Tom Sorsby run and Jonny Gall's cross from the left was just missed by Louis Gittens in attempting a tap-in from close range.
Surbiton's first penalty corner in the thirteenth minute proved unlucky for Holcombe defender Alex Moen who suffered a painful blow but his side were compensated with a free hit.
Before the end of the first quarter, Holcombe goalkeeper, Ollie Payne saved Gareth Furlong's penalty corner shot and Holcombe's Jake Owen fired over the bar
The breakthrough came in the 22nd minute when Tim Nurse scored from open play and celebrated in fine style to the delight of the home supporters.
Surbiton had been frustrated at their failure to convert penalty corners but Gareth Furlong converted their fifth penalty corner on the half hour to double the hosts' lead and seemingly starting to take control.
However, it only takes a few seconds to score a goal and Holcombe were back in the match in the 42nd minute when Phil Roper, who had earned the Kent club a point in a 2-2 draw at Holcombe Park on the opening day of the season, lifted the ball over Mazarelo and into the goal.
The drama continued shortly afterwards when Holcombe were awarded a penalty stroke, only for Roper's effort to be saved by Mazarelo moving to his right to preserve Surbiton's 2-1 lead.
Holcombe were rewarded with an equaliser in the 49th minute, Nick Bandurak converting the visitors' only award of the match to leave all to play for.
Surbiton had an injury concern at the end of the third quarter as James Gall, who had been briefly injured in the tenth minute was left lying prostrate on the ground following a Surbiton attack, with play delayed for six minutes while Gall was given the medical attention necessary to enable him to be helped off the pitch at walking pace.
The fourth quarter saw Surbiton awarded three penalty corners with Payne again denying Gareth Furlong before Rob Farrington sent the rebound past the post and Alex Williams blasted the ball over the bar following yet another Payne save.
With the game set to end in a 2-2 draw, Luke Taylor clinically converted Surbiton's eighth penalty corner in the 69th minute to give the hosts what could prove to be a vital win.
With Wimbledon and Hampstead & Westminster not in action due to Wimbledon originally being due to compete in the European Indoor Hockey Cup in Turkey before the tournament was cancelled due to the crisis situation in the country, Surbiton are now three points ahead of third-placed Hampstead, although Hampstead have a game in hand.
Old Georgians maintained their eight point lead over Surbiton with a 2-1 win at Reading. Lee Morton and James Albery scored for Old Georgians with Adam Pescod replying for Reading.
In the Lower Six, Beeston stayed top with a 4-2 home win over the University of Exeter. George Fletcher and Rohan Bhuhi scored for Beeston supported by Jamie Golden's late brace whilst Ollie Drummond scored both Exeter goals. Beeston have a three point advantage over East Grinstead.
East Grinstead took advantage of Oxted's 2-2 home draw with Brooklands Manchester University to move up to second with a 4-3 win at the University of Nottingham. Ben Mackey, Simon Faulkner, Fin Boothroyd and Richard Lane scored for East Grinstead with Hugh Page, Charlie Axford and Louis Tipper on target for Nottingham.
Oxted led twice against Brooklands through Matt Barnett and Matt Crookshanks but Finn Ward and Craig Falconer earned Brooklands' second point of the season as Oxted dropped to third, a point behind East Grinstead.
Surbiton Men have a double header next weekend. First they have another Saturday evening fixture against Wimbledon (25 February - push back 6 pm) and then on Sunday, host Hampstead & Westminster (push back 4.30 pm).