Canterbury and Holcombe share the spoils

Canterbury v Holcombe in Play Offs
Canterbury 1 (1)
Wei Adams, 15, PC

Holcombe 1 (1)
Gareth Andrew, 8, PC

The opening Play-Off fixture of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League finals weekend saw Conference East winners Holcombe take on a Canterbury side fighting to stay in the top division. After an even start, it was Holcombe who struck first through the East League’s top goal scorer Gareth Andrew. The number seven pounced on a loose ball in the circle, firing into the roof of the net. Their slender lead only lasted seven minutes though as the Kent side drew level from a penalty corner. Wei Adams rifled an unstoppable shot past the out-stretched left glove of George Pinner to leave the half time score finely poised at 1 – 1.  

In the second half, both sides had opportunities to take the lead but neither were able to capitalise. Stephen Vehrle-Smith had Holcombe’s best chance, stealing the ball from a Canterbury stick and driving into the circle, only to fire his shot narrowly wide of the far post. In a tense final 15 minutes, Canterbury dominated, winning four penalty corners in quick succession, but between them Craig Boyne and Kwan Browne were unable to find the net. 

 A goal-less second half meant the final score remained at 1 – 1, leaving it all to play for tomorrow. Both sides will start the day on four points as Holcombe face Team Bath Buccaneers and Canterbury play Bowdon in the final fixtures of the Round Robin. 

After the game Canterbury captain Tom Richford reflected on missed opportunities: "I thought it was quite a good game altogether but we're quite disappointed that we didn't take the three points. I thought we were the better team overall and had the better chances. If we'd converted some of our penalty corners like we normally do then that would have made the difference for us. I thought Aaron Hudson at the back had a very strong game defensively, and Craig Boyne gave us intensity up front."

Goal scorer Gareth Andrew was pleased with Holcombe's performance: "We started strong, and that's what Jules [Hall, the Holcombe Coach] tries to get across to us, to start the match strong and fast and we were rewarded by going 1-0 up. It's small margins at this level, and we need to take our chances. I'm pleased to get the goal, and I hope I can get on the score sheet in the next match. Team Bath won the West Conference so it's going to be a tough game."

Tickets are still available on the door for today's fixtures and tickets for tomorrow available online at the advance price until midnight tonight. Tickets will also be available on the door for tomorrow's games, all details here.

NOW: Pensions Men’s Promotion Play-Offs standings after two matches

3Team Bath Buccaneers2101-43