Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 3 Holcombe 4
Surbiton Men’s lead at the top of the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division was cut to a single point after Holcombe won 4-3 at Sugden Road to keep their chances of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Championships playoffs alive.
After the arctic weather decimated Saturday’s national league programme, only Surbiton and IWHL Conference North club Timperley were able to host their scheduled games, both thanks to the sterling efforts of a number of volunteers.
Sadly neither club was rewarded for their efforts with positive results, Timperley losing 2-1 at home to Beeston and Surbiton Ladies losing to Holcombe by the same score in the first match of the Sugden Road doubleheader.
Although there was a wind chill factor, Surbiton’s pitch was never in serious danger of freezing and the crowd who ventured out were rewarded with a thriller which saw Surbiton just fail to come back from 4-0 down to salvage at least a point.
Holcombe took the lead in the seventh minute, Harry Trusler finding the backboard from open play. Six minutes before half time, Nick Bandurak doubled the visitors’ lead from the penalty spot, slotting the ball to home goalkeeper, Taylor Seager-Green’s right to give Surbiton work to do in the second half.
Holcombe continued their domination of the scoreboard after half time, Matthew Rees-Gibbs and Robert Field both striking from open play in the 47th and 52nd minutes respectively to put the Kent club firmly in control and on course to complete a league double over the reigning champions.
Surbiton still trailed 4-0 with twelve minutes to play, but their comeback began in the 59th minute when they were awarded a penalty stroke for a foul on Arjan Drayton-Chana. While Drayton-Chana was writhing in pain beyond the backline, Holcombe’s Alistair Bray was shown a yellow card.
Alan Forsyth calmly beat Holcombe goalkeeper, Andy Perkins to give Surbiton’s supporters hope, with Drayton-Chana able to walk around the pitch after receiving treatment from the physio.
Trailing 4-1, Surbiton increased their attacking options by giving Willie Marshall the kicking back bib and brought back memories of their comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Wimbledon in last season’s Championship Final. Although there was no prospect of a shootout on this occasion, Gareth Furlong repeated his Lee Valley heroics by drag-flicking penalty corner conversions in the 62nd and 67th minutes, only being denied the chance of a hat-trick and a second last-gasp draw by the clock running out.
Surbiton lead nearest rivals, Beeston by a single point with both teams having four games left. Surbiton’s game at Reading is yet to be rearranged, but next Sunday, they travel to Paddington Recreation Ground for a London derby with Hampstead and Westminster (push back 1.30 pm).
Scorers: Alan Forsyth 59-PS, Gareth Furlong 62-PC, 67-PC.
Squad: Luke Taylor, Jonny Gall, Chris Grassick (Capt.), Arjan Drayton-Chana, Willie Marshall, Zach Wallace, Alan Forsyth, Adam Buckle, Sam Spencer, Nick Parkes, Taylor Seager-Green (GK).
Subs: Lewis Prosser (6 mins), Dave Bartram (7), Conor Williamson (9), Gareth Furlong (11).
Squad: Martin Robbins, Matthew Symonds, Dan Webster, Alistair Bray, Jonathan Bretherton, Glenn Eyers, Harry Trusler, Matthew Rees-Gibbs, Richard Lane (Capt.), Nick Bandurak, Andy Perkins (GK).
Subs: Ben Tanner (6 mins), Robert Field (10), Tom O’Keeffe (10), Jack Pogson (16).
Match Official: Thea Hitchock
Umpires: Nick Padget and Martin Twist
Colin Pike | Surbiton HC