Pinner’s saves simply the best

From HWC member Mike Haymonds in the Express
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

HOLCOMBE keeper George Pinner produced a superb display in the 1-1 draw at Surbiton to maintain the Kent club's unbeaten record.

Striker Sam Ward, who scored the goal to help extend Holcombe’s lead in the England hockey league men’s premier division to six points with three games to play, described Pinner’s efforts as “the best goalkeeping performance I’ve seen.”

Amongst other heroics he saved from five of Surbiton’s seven penalty corners.

Holcombe were missing their trio of GB centralised squad players – Barry Middleton, Ashley Jackson and Iain Lewers – not used only four days after returning from playing in the Hockey India League.

A high quality encounter before around 450 spectators saw Surbiton captain David Beckett equalise in the 59th minute following Ward’s 42nd minute opener. Second placed Reading missed the opportunity to reduce Holcombe’s lead after losing 3-1 to Hampstead & Westminster while Surbiton stayed in third spot.

Holcombe are assured of a play-off place while Reading and Surbiton are virtually there with the fourth slot now contested by Wimbledon, who lost 1-0 at Beeston, and Brooklands MU, who beat East Grinstead 3-1.

In the foot of the table clash Canterbury continued their attempted escape act with a 4-2 victory at Cannock to reduce their deficit to four points behind the Midlanders.

Surbiton women closed to within one point of the leaders University of Birmingham and maintained the only unbeaten record in the Investec Premier Division with a 2-0 win over East Grinstead, thanks to first half goals from Rebecca Middleton and Olivia Chilton.

A lone strike by 17-year-old Sophie Shakespeare gave Reading victory over the Students and eased their own relegation worries. Canterbury stayed in third place with a 2-0 win over Clifton and the top three are now guaranteed play-off places. East Grinstead and Holcombe are neck-and-neck for the final slot.

At the bottom Buckingham, after a 3-1 defeat by Holcombe, are four points adrift of Bowdon Hightown, who have a game in hand – a postponed meeting with Surbiton, to be played next weekend.