Pagham and Chichester both had to settle for home draws - but Pagham have had good and bad news elsewhere.
Pagham 1 Newhaven 1
Sussex League division one
INJURY-HIT Newhaven took a point away from Nyetimber Lane thanks to the heroics of Jake Buss, who prevented a home win.
With new signing Liam O’Connor on the bench, and changes to the side who took Burgess Hill so close in midweek in the Sussex Senior Cup, John Price was again shuffling his pack.
The visitors started with a stinging shot from Lee Robinson pinging back off the post. James Temple, at the other end, was unfortunate to find Buss in superb form.
A triple save on the quarter-hour was as desparate as it was determined as the Lions sniffed a goal.
James Binfield in Pagham’s goal also had to be alert, with Simon Breach almost breaching the defence and forcing a good save from Binfield. Newhaven again hit the post on 20 minutes, Ryan Knight striking the woodwork. A speculative shot from Goatcher saw Binfield tip the ball over.
Scott Murfin’s trickeryset up Tom Jefkins but the chance was ended by robust defending. Neil Murfin’s protestatsion to referee Mr Gilham saw him pick up an unnecessary yellow card.
Josh Clack’s run down the wing came to nothing as Scott Edwards hustled Clack off the ball, while Buss came to the rescue again from a Scott Murfin shot.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Buss went down injured. With only two subs, and no sub keeper, there was relief all round on the Newhaven bench as Buss reacted to treatment.
Two minutes into the second half Tom Jefkins was down, but the Pagham physio worked her magic and Jefkins picked himself up and struck a shot which went just over the bar.
Temple was also on a mission, with the goal at his mercy more than once. When not foiled by Buss, it was the offside flag that stopped the big striker.
Ben Buckland was busy in Pagham’s defence, a clearance on the hour stopping the visitors from scoring.
James Ford and Neil Murfin came off, Joe Briggs and Lee Bradshaw replacing them.
On 69 minutes Temple went on a blistering run, weaving his way to goal and striking a superb goal beyond Buss.
The lead lasted 30 seconds as Newhaven equalised, Jack Webber evening the scores.
O’Connor made his Lions debut on 74 minutes, Jeffers coming off after a good game. Newhaven again cleared off the line.
Clack picked up an unjust booking on 79 minutes as protests rang in the officials’ ears about a foul on a Pagham player.
Ruben French’s 82nd-minute free-kick missed the target, while a frantic last five minutes saw Jason Sowter shoot across Pagham’s goal, French’s shot saved by Buss and Briggs having two more chances for the winner.
PAGHAM: Binfield. Buckland, French, Pearce, Booker, N Murfin(Bradshaw 63), Clack, Jefkins (O’Connor 74), Temple, S Murfin, Ford (JBriggs 61). Subs: Cutler, Hallett
* First-half goals by Scott Murfin and James Temple gave the Lions an excellent 2-0 win at Hailsham that lifted them to 12th in the table.
Meanwhile, the Lions have been thrown out of the John O’Hara Cup for playing Josh Clack in their 9-0 win over Worthing United when he had appeared for a different side earlier in the competition.
Worthing also fielded an ineligible player but the authorities rejected the teams’ bid to play the tie again.
Chichester City 1 Crowborough 1
Sussex League division one
CHICHESTER produced a battling performance to earn a draw against third-placed Crowborough.
Centre-half Peter Hibbert scored his first goal for City before division one’s joint leading marksman Sam Carrington equalised for the Crows.
With only one victory in their nine previous matches and several players out injured, Chichester appeared to have a tough assignment - but were boosted by handing a debut to one-time Eire youth international George Landais.
The striker almost got off the mark in the third minute when he dashed through with only the keeper to beat but failed to keep his composure at the vital moment.
It didn’t take long for Crowborough to work their way into contention though, and a close-range effort from Carrington was only averted by Hibbert flinging himself at the ball. Then, on 17 minutes a thumping ten-yard volley from Jeffrey Mahadoo produced a brilliant save by Anthony Ender.
City’s 34th-minute goal was somewhat against the run of play. Ender launched a long free-kick that led to Landais having a shot at goal. The ball was only cleared as far as Hibbert on the edge of the box and he sent in a rather untidy rebound that found its way into the net.
During the second half, Chichester generally produced the better chances. Gareth Sanashee blasted over on 59 minutes, followed by an excellent delivery from Connor Cody to Morgan Forry that keeper Nick Collick just managed to intercept.
Cody slipped through on his own in the 66th minute but hammered his shot over the bar.
Crowborough made a double substitution that proved to be an inspired move, instantly ramping up their performance. On 75 minutes, a Wayne Clarke throw-in allowed Callum Ridley to make some rapid headway and cross for Carrington to head home the equaliser - his 18th of the season.
The Crows continued to press during the closing stages, gaining several corners, but Chichester defended stoutly to hold on for a deserved point.
CITY: Ender, Heath, Sanashee, Boniface, Hibbert, Cody, Ansa, F Smith, Landais, Kilner, Forry. Subs: Groom, Brookes.