As the eighth round of games were completed over this past weekend, a double home victory for Holcombe’s sides led both teams into the England Hockey Playoff spots.
England Hockey Women’s National Premier League
Holcombe HC 3-0 Slough HC
Scorers: Holcombe HC: Sarah Jones, Emma Trunks, Dirkie Chamberlain
Holcombe Hockey Club, Rochester
With consecutive draws away from home over the past fortnight, Holcombe Women returned to Holcombe Park looking to capitalise on an increasing sense of frustration in front of goal.
Visitors Slough had enjoyed a promising start to their campaign but consecutive losses left them just a single goal behind Sunday’s hosts at the start of play with a close encounter anticipated with both sides looking to capitalise on Surbiton’s dropped points on Saturday evening.
From the first whistle, Holcombe asserted themselves on the visitors, moving the ball around with purpose and threatening forward at will.
Just two minutes into the contest and Holcombe had their breakthrough courtesy of Wales and Great Britain International Sarah Jones. A strong attack down the left flank led to Jones getting across her marker to deflect home from close range.
Not content with the one goal, Holcombe continued to push forward as the Slough goal came under considerable pressure from the home side.
Chances for Dirkie Chamberlain, Emily Beeney and Line Milan all went begging for the Kent side as they threatened to run away with the game before half-time.
After the interval, with the scores still level, Holcombe continued to dominate possession and territory as the visitors failed to create any threat to the home sides’ defensive third.
Ten minutes into the second half, a fiercely struck cross from Sarah Jones was deflected into the Asha Tranquille-Day in the Slough goal by Jo Westwood and somehow failed to find the back of the net.
A split-grip volley from Emma Trunks and a drag-flick Dirkie Chamberlain just missed the target as Holcombe failed to add to their early goal.
Two reverse-stick strikes from an acute angle failed to beat Tranquille-Day as Holcombe Park became increasingly anxious heading into the final fifteen minutes.
Just a minute later however and they finally had the breakthrough they deserved. A well-worked penalty corner saw Emma Trunks slide in to deflect home and double the advantage for Leigh Maasdorp’s side.
Galvanised by conceding another goal, Slough immediately stepped on the offensive and won themselves a penalty corner, only for the initial strike to be charged down with 10 minutes to play.
From there, Holcombe won a penalty corner of their own and this time Chamberlain’s drag flick found its’ way through Tranquille-Day to secure the points for the home side.
Next weekend, Holcombe travel to Leicester for a Saturday lunch time clash as they look to keep pace with the early season pace-setters of Surbiton and the University of Birmingham that sit just three points ahead in the table.
England Hockey Men’s National Premier League
Holcombe HC 3-0 Brooklands MU HC
Scorers: Holcombe HC: Robert Field, Dan Edwards, Barry Middleton
Brooklands MU HC:
Holcombe Hockey Club, Rochester
After a convincing win on the road to local rivals Canterbury last weekend, Julian Halls’ side returned to Holcombe Park on Saturday, looking for consecutive victories as Brooklands MU HC made the long journey down from Manchester.
With two wins from their opening seven fixtures, it was the Northern side that started the brightest, making some early penetrations into the Kent side’s defensive third as they looked to unsettle their hosts.
Some unforced errors in offense led to some cheap turnovers from Holcombe as Chris Scott in the Brooklands goal remained largely untroubled through the opening phase.
As the half wore on, the home side grew into the contest and started to create some goal scoring opportunities.
Some strong carries from Mo Mea and Harry Trusler threatened to open the Brooklands defence but it wasn’t until 25 minutes in that Holcombe got their breakthrough.
A powerful drag-flick from Rob Field in the home side’s first penalty corner of the game beat Scott low to his right to settle any early nerves and put Holcombe in the ascendency.
Just five minutes later and the advantage was doubled as young Dan Edwards netted his first National Premier League goal. With a penalty corner strike initially saved by Scott, the second phase was well worked to Edwards on the baseline.
As Scott came out to narrow the angle, a delicate lift over his left shoulder gave the teenager his first goal from the tightest of angles.
Emerging from the interval with a two-goal advantage, the home side continued to push forward. Early chances went begging as Brooklands were forced to play on the counter.
Ten minutes into the half however, a moment of brilliance from Barry Middleton gave the home side a comfortable advantage. Carrying through the midfield, Middleton beat 3 defensive players before firing a reverse stick strike high into the Brooklands net.
With the game secured, chances for Harry Trusler and Tom O’Keefe failed to add to the score-line and a couple of late Brooklands penalty corners forced George Pinner into action as Holcombe professionally secured another three points that sees them jump into third position in the table.
Next weekend, Holcombe travel to a talented Hampstead and Westminster side in the final game of the first round of matches.
Image Credit: Lawrence King and Theresa Waight