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Holcombe Men play champions Old Georgians in their final Premier Division Phase Three Pool A fixture – Holcombe Women take on Doncaster for a place in the final of the England Hockey Cup

Holcombe face champions Old Georgians on Saturday looking to secure a spot at League Finals weekend.

The game is Holcombe’s final Premier Division Phase Three Pool A fixture. The club’s women’s team, meanwhile, are bidding to reach the final of the England Hockey Cup on Sunday.

Holcombe Men are up against the champions this weekend Picture: Martin Waight images
Holcombe Men are up against the champions this weekend Picture: Martin Waight images

by Lucas Ball

If Hampstead & Westminster are victorious over Beeston, Holcombe Men have to win to stand a chance at qualification, the standings then coming down to goal difference.

Player-coach Barry Middleton said: “We truly believe we can match any team in the league and that’s what we’ve got to do again this weekend.

“We’re nowhere close to looking at play-offs yet.

“The simple thing is, the maths works out nicely on a win, we’re qualified.

“There’s lots of permutations below that but, for us, that’s the simple stat that in some ways makes it quite easy to know what we’re focusing on.”

Beeston have lost both Pool A matches so far but led three times at Old Georgians and forward Henry Croft remains a challenge for any backline.

If Hampstead draw or lose, a draw or win for Holcombe would be enough to finish in the top-two – while if both Hampstead and Holcombe lose, it would once again come down to goal difference.

Beeston are unlikely to qualify but could finish second with a win and a Holcombe defeat, though would be relying on a big goal difference swing.

Wimbledon and hosts Surbiton have already secured their League Finals weekend spots from Pool B.

Middleton’s side have not beaten Old Georgians since 2020, but both games have been extremely close.

Ashley Jackson’s side are coming off the back of three games in five days over the Easter weekend at the Euro Hockey League FINAL8, where they won a first-ever EHL medal after finishing third.

Former Holcombe player Sam Ward will miss the match with injury, though player-coach Jackson and goalkeeper George Pinner could face their former club on Saturday.

Finals weekend is on the weekend of April 13-14.

Holcombe Women are aiming for a cup final Picture: Martin Waight images
Holcombe Women are aiming for a cup final Picture: Martin Waight images

Nick Bandurak’s women’s team head to Doncaster having already sealed promotion in indoor and outdoor hockey this season.

Holcombe are looking to cap off a super season with a cup triumph. Division 1 South winners and Beeston – still threatened by relegation from the Premier Division – meet in the other semi-final.

Holcombe’s second-placed Division One South finish was enough for an immediate return to the top-flight, while Doncaster finished seventh in the Conference Midlands, the tier below Division One in the National League, after taking just a sole point from their last two matches and six points in their nine matches after the Christmas break.

In contrast, Holcs ended their league campaign with four straight victories, winning away at Canterbury and Team Bath Buccaneers before home triumphs over promotion rivals Barnes and then Wimbledon 2s on the last day to secure promotion.

A win for Holcombe would set up a cup final on Monday, May 6 at Lee Valley.

The match comes 15 days since Holcombe’s last - another win over Wimbledon 2s at Holcombe Park as Bandurak’s side sealed an immediate return to the Premier Division and, in doing so, became the first team - men’s or women’s - to seal an immediate bounce back since Buckingham in 2016/17.

Holcs are also now one of just two sides who will have both their men’s and women’s first teams in both the outdoor and Super 6s respective top-flights for the 2024/25 campaign, alongside East Grinstead.

Captain Harriet Pittard said: “I think people are excited, it’s a long way to go so everyone needs to be switched on and definitely not under-estimate them.

“Obviously we’ve been training throughout, we haven’t had a break so there’s been some good preparation.

“I think people are excited, people want to try to complete all three - indoor and outdoor promotions and the cup - to say that we’ve done it all heading into next season, I think everyone’s on the same page with that.

“It’s been quite a nice break to have not done the cup for a few years but it’s definitely the right year to have done it I think.

“It’s Doncaster this weekend, providing all goes well, we put in a shift and do what we need to do, then we’d be up against either Beeston or Surbiton 2s in the final, if we get that far.

“That would be a bit of a statement to make within the cup.

“It’s really exciting, the group have worked so hard and everyone felt like all of the effort that went in paid off, I think the girls are probably still celebrating a bit so it’s been really good fun.

“I didn’t know that [on being the first team to make an immediate Premier Division return in seven seasons], it’s very cool, a great achievement.

“It’s pretty impressive, it’s great for the club and good profile, it’s a really good thing.”

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