It’s a cliche to talk of a game of two halves, but Pagham’s 4-2 over Hassocks in division one of the Sussex League certainly fitted that bill.
Roaring to a 4-1 half-time lead, the Lions let things slip after the break to give struggling Hassocks a lifeline.
The Lions had the best possible start as within two minutes they were 1-0 up. Superb work by Neil Murfin fed Rob Wimble, who passed to Scott Murfin and he made no mistake tucking away his fourth goal in three games.
Jack Simpson was kept busy in the Robins’ goal and Rob Wimble and Ryan Morey could have added two more before Jack Hawker’s run and shot doubled the Lions’ lead with less than ten minutes gone.
Goal number three came from Liam O’Connor’s ball in to Lewis Hamilton. O’Connor had a superb game and Hamilton’s goal was a tribute to O’Connor’s industry.
Hassocks woke up and a corner had to be hacked away by Morey, and Dan Stokes shot over. There was farce on 25 minutes as Jake Hawker was forced into a tackle on Mark Price after the ball was supposed to be kicked out for treatment to a stricken Hassocks player.
Hassocks’ first goal came through hesitancy in the Lions defence. A ball in ended with Phil Johnson, who had the easiest of jobs to tuck the ball away. The Lions soon added another, Scott Murfin’s run and shot giving Simpson no chance.
Hassocks went for it after the break, though Rob Wimble’s shot was collected by Simpson.
Morey was booked and on the hour there was double misfortune for Phil Johnson – denied what seemed a certain penalty, then booked within a minute.
Luca Coleman-Carr replaced Lions’ skipper Neil Murfin on the hour.
A snap-shot from Dan Stokes failed to trouble Binfield, while Simpson scrambled the ball away with Morey lurking.
A tactical change with 20 minutes to go saw Ruben French replace Wimble. French had been on the pitch only a few minutes before testing Simpson with a shot the keeper did well to catch.
Simspon didn’t do so well on 80 minutes as he fumbled a cross from Hamilton. Murfin had a couple of chances before a controversial penalty was awarded to Hassocks.
The Pagham fans greeted the decision with derision as the referee seemed to look to his assistant before pointing to the spot. Up stepped Nicholas Pitcher to make it 4-2.
PAGHAM: Binfield, Hawker, A Brown, Davidson, Bradshaw, N Murfin (Coleman-Carr 60), Hamilton, O’Connor (Garnett 81), Wimble (French 70), S Murfin, Morey. Subs not used: Chatfield, Richer.
Pagham host Spelthorne in the FA Vase at Nyetimber Lane this Saturday.
Pagham Reserves missed a chance to close the gap on the league leaders, but having players called up for first-team duty and others missing meant it was a very young side who made the trip to Eastbourne United and lost 3-0.
The under-18s entertained Shoreham Youth and David Crough gave Pagham the lead just before half-time but the visitors hit back when a long-range shot left Ben Richer no chance.
The young Lions got their reward when a great run and cross from Danny Greenslade set up Josh Irish to grab the points and push Pagham up into second place – the only unbeaten side in the division.