Holcombe 5-8 Beeston
Scorers: David Appleton x2, Nick Bandurak x2, Harry Trusler
Holcombe 11-0 St. Albans
Scorers: Nick Bandurak x5, Richard Lane x 3, Gareth Andrew, Ali Bray, Rob Field
Holcombe 6-2 Southgate
Scorers: Nick Bandurak x3, Dan Fox x2, Harry Trusler
Holcombe 10-1 Sheffield Hallam
Scorers: Rob Field x4, Richard Lane x3, Nick Bandurak x2, Ali Bray
Entering the second weekend of competition in England Hockey’s Super Sixes Division 1 with their 100% record in tact, Holcombe faced off against the only other side not to drop points through the opening weekend; Beeston.
Julian Hall’s men entered the weekend even more short-handed than the first with Captain Richard Lane and Vice-Captain Dan Fox both unavailable for the keenly anticipated contest. After falling behind early, David Appleton restored parity for the Kent before being struck in the face from close range shortly after. With an extensive delay and clear damage having been done to the Holcombe defender, the Kent side lost their way and conceded 5 more to go into the break 6-1 down.
With Appleton’s teeth having been saved and a make-shift protective guard in place, he returned to the court at half-time. Having settled into the contest and got the journey out of their legs, Holcombe dominated the second half.
A second for Appleton to go along with a Harry Trusler goal and a Nick Bandurak brace gave the contest life but a strong performance from the home side was rounded off with a couple of late goals to secure the points.
With a relatively short turn-around in between games, Holcombe Captain Richard Lane was able to join the squad ahead of their 6th fixture in the competition against St. Albans as well as David Appleton returning from A&E.
With a clear message of remaining patient and disciplined in defence, Holcombe put on a clinic to score 11 unanswered goals. Nick Bandurak helped himself to 5 goals whilst Captain Richard Lane added a hat-trick of his own. Further goals from Gareth Andrew, Ali Bray and Rob Field rounded off an emphatic victory for the Kent side.
In a late game on Saturday evening, Beeston lost to West Herts to throw the promotion race wide open. With Holcombe therefore finishing the day top on goal difference with three teams tied for points at the top, promotion and the Championship was ultimately left in Holcombe’s hands as they entered the final two games of competition.
In a 9am game on Sunday morning; renowned for lapses of concentration, intensity and core skill execution, Holcombe put forward a clinical and professional performance to win 6-2. Nick Bandurak scored a hat-trick whilst a Dan Fox brace and a Harry Trusler goal ensured that Holcombe entered their final game of the competition knowing that a victory would ensure an instant return to the Premier League.
With Brooklands and Beeston playing each other immediately afterwards to decide who would join Holcombe should they win, Julian Halls’ men knew that a victory would ensure promotion whilst an emphatic victory would give a strong chance for the Championship to return to Holcombe Park as well.
Any perceived pressure on their final game against Sheffield Hallam never came into question has Holcombe were ruthless again in offence to score double figures on their northern opponents. Rob Field claimed four goals with Captain Richard Lane adding another hat-trick. Two more for Nick Bandurak to go with a further Ali Bray goal rounded off the scoring as Holcombe ended in emphatic style, running out eventual 10-1 winners.
The Kent side’s meanest defence in the league and their professional displays across the two weekends meant they took home the Championship and with it, an instant return to the Premier League where they will compete for a playoff spot at Wembley in January of next year.
Holcombe Captain Richard Lane was extremely happy with his sides’ performances across the campaign; “We’re delighted to come through the two weekends with only losing one game. We were hit hard before with injuries but every man in the small squad stood up and performed. It gives us a real boost going into the outdoor campaign with some tough fixtures coming up.”