Only time will tell how crucial Pagham’s 1-0 home defeat to Lancing will prove in the first-division title race in the Sussex League, but it led to Lancing leapfrogging the Lions to move second in the table.
With keeper Wes Hallett still out with a knee injury, young James Binfield deputised in goal and was by far the busier of the two keepers.
It started well for the home side with Howard Neighbour, Scott Murfin and Alex Ward all in on goal. Each chance went begging, but at least the intent was there.
The visitors had other ideas, however, and in the 13th minute Charlie Walker had time and space to convert his 16th league goal of the season.
The Lions were limited to a long-range shot from Murfin and a chance for James Temple which saw the ball roll agonisingly past his outstretched leg.
Pagham kept pressing, forcing corners, but nothing came of them and Lancing were content to control the game at their pace.
Lewis Hyde’s run and shot with a minute of the first half to go was Pagham’s best chance and Murfin hit the side netting a minute later.
At half-time, there was plenty for Carl Stabler to ponder.
Pagham hit two free-kicks straight at Tony de Bernardo in the Lancers’ goal and Grant Philpott was booked for a tackle on Murfin.
With the hour mark approaching, Lancing’s Dan McLoughlin could have seen yellow for a late tackle on Matt Wood. The referee settled for a lecture.
Pagham replaced Ben Buckland with Dan Simmonds and in a surprise move, Simmonds slotted in at left-back rather than the striking role most were expecting.
More good work from Hyde forced Walker to shoot over when he was in on goal. Lee Garnham had acres of space on 67 minutes as he ran through but shot over.
Binfield had to be at his best with a save at the second attempt from a Lancers’ free-kick.
Temple caused excitement for Lions’ fans with an attempt that De Bernado just got to. At the other end, Binfield again saved Pagham’s blushes.
Temple tried again for the Lions but headed the ball straight at di Bernardo.
PAGHAM: Binfield, Hyde, Buckland, Pearce, Booker, Ward, Wood, N Murfin, Neighbour, S Murfin, Temple. Subs: Boston, Robinson, Urquhart, Price.