A goal from Pagham striker Scott Murfin deep into stoppage time snatched a point for the visitors against Chichester City at Oaklands Park in the SCFL premier division Boxing Day derby.
There was little between two teams separated by five miles and five points in the SCFL Premier League in the opening ten minutes.
The first chance followed a Josh Clack free-kick from 25 yards that a Pagham defender skewed dangerously over his own bar. A minute later the Lions could have gone ahead but Murfin pulled his shot wide from the edge of the box.
This was an unsurprisingly-feisty affair between rivals third and fifth in the league.
The first half was edgy and littered with stoppages. City man of the match Dan Hegarty put in a real shift in the middle of the park breaking up play and getting Chichester going forward where possible. Hegarty was ably supported by fellow midfielder Max Thoms.
Chi’s top scorer Scott Jones could have done better with the couple of chances he had in the first 45 minutes, blazing over the bar on both occasions.
Jones set up Clack five minutes before the break but Pagham keeper James Binfield blocked the effort.
The visitors had their own opportunities in a frantic spell. First Murfin’s set piece fizzed just wide of Ant Ender’s right-hand post, then Kieron Pamment got a smart shot off on the turn that Ender did well to get down to.
Pagham started the second half brightly with a header just over the bar on 46 minutes before Pamment fired over following a foul on his team-mate five minutes later.
The game really heated up and the referee had to brandish a number of yellow cards. Chichester made the game’s first substitution with Tommy Block coming on for Jamie Horncastle.
The home side settled once again and a neat exchange between Clack and Thoms set up Jones but the Chi forward was denied by Binfield at his near post.
City carved out another two chances for Jones inside a minute but Binfield, arguably Pagham’s best player, pulled off a pair of fine stops. It was all Chichester and Clack put another well-struck free kick inches wide of the upright before Thoms similarly saw his effort drift wide at the last minute.
Pagham’s stubborn resistance was finally broken as Keiran Hartley eluded the tackles of two Pagham defenders and drove into the box before drilling the ball into the bottom corner with Binfield rooted to the spot.
City might have doubled their lead three minutes later but after an excellent first touch Jones couldn’t guide the ball round the advancing Binfield.
At the other end Pagham forged opportunities as the home side sat back electing to defend the advantage. Liam Humphries blasted over from distance and the Lions also went close with a free kick.
Murfin’s equaliser came with practically the last kick of the game in time added on. Murfin tucked the ball in from close range and wheeled away to celebrate with a large group of visiting fans.
City first team coach Danny Potter was philosophical about what felt like two points dropped. “We knew this would be a tough game. Pagham’s persistence paid off and we missed chances that might have put the game out of sight,” he said. “It was a tight game. Both teams defended well, though we felt we created the better chances.”
Chichester visit Arundel in the league on Saturday while Pagham host Wick.
City entertain Buckland Athletic in their last-32 FA Vase match at Oaklands on Saturday, January 7.
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