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Holcombe Men beat Hampstead & Westminster 2-1 in England Hockey Premier Division phase two after Thursday night’s defeat at Wimbledon

Holcombe Men earned their first three points of Premier Division Phase Two at the fourth attempt.

They claimed a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday evening at Holcombe Park courtesy of goals from Alex Pendle and Tom Russell.

Barry Middleton’s side enjoyed a weekend win against Hampstead & Westminster Picture: Theresa Field
Barry Middleton’s side enjoyed a weekend win against Hampstead & Westminster Picture: Theresa Field

Report by Lucas Ball

It was Barry Middleton’s side’s fifth win over the Londoners in their last five meetings since the start of last season, with the two sides now guaranteed to meet in Phase Three after securing fourth (Holcombe) and fifth-placed (Hampstead & Westminster) finishes respectively.

With Old Georgians also securing top spot over the weekend – and therefore a Euro Hockey League spot for 2024/25 – it leaves three of the four sides in Pool A as the same sides from last season, while Beeston – also in Pool A last season – could still join them.

Finishing in fourth does mean that Holcombe will have two home games in Phase Three, though there is one more Phase Two match to come – away at Southgate this Saturday.

Holcombe’s fast starts in both Q1 and Q2 on Saturday proved too much for their opponents and they may well have had more goals on another day, with Toby Reynolds-Cotterill making a number of strong saves throughout despite Holcs’ injury woes – worsened by Russell’s departure midway through this encounter.

It took just three minutes for birthday boy Pendle to score – Tim Guise-Brown, playing against his brother, Matt, sent a long aerial into the circle, a defender’s mis-trap allowing Pendle to steal in and give the hosts an early advantage - his ninth league goal of the season.

Within 15 seconds of the second period, Middleton’s men had doubled their lead. Hampstead almost immediately gave the ball away from their pushback, allowing Pendle to find Middleton, who played the perfect pass through to Russell who scored his 13th competitive outdoor goal of the season in 16 appearances.

Guise-Brown then forced a save before the visitors pulled one back through Joe Hillyer on the half-hour mark.

It was Holcombe who, once again, started the third period more brightly as Tom O’Keeffe and Guise-Brown forced more saves in the opening six minutes of the second half, before Payne made a super save from a Hampstead penalty corner at the other end after a drag-flick deflected off Sam Taylor.

The visitors squandered perhaps their best chance to equalise early in the final period as a close-range effort was lifted over the bar.

Holcombe will now be looking to make it back-to-back wins as they travel to the Southgate Hockey Centre on Saturday, where they won 5-2 back in September.

Holcombe had suffered a third consecutive Premier Division defeat at Wimbledon on Thursday night, losing 3-1.

Ian Sloan, Charlie Stubbings and former Holc Sam Hooper gave Wimbledon a three-goal advantage before Tim Guise-Brown pulled a goal back for Middleton’s men with 13 minutes remaining.

Russell was denied from a deflection late on as Holcombe pushed for another but their possession was to no avail as Wimbledon held on for the three points.

Holcombe’s women face two away matches this weekend after Saturday’s trip to Team Bath Buccaneers was postponed due to snow. They now face Canterbury away on Saturday (1:15pm) before travelling to Bath on Sunday (3pm).

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