DORKING knocked Pagham off the top of the Sussex League with a 1-0 win at Nyetimber Lane.
The Lions hadn’t played a league game for the past two Saturdays but weren’t using that as an excuse as they fell to their first defeat in 11 games.
Pagham welcomed Alex Kew back to Nyetimber Lane and he slotted straight into a starting place.
Tom Tolfrey, a tormentor of the Lions in previous meetings this season, was again in form, making the most of early Dorking pressure.
Tom Broadbent and James Binfield both rescued the Lions as the visitors threatened an early lead. Daryl Coleman tried his luck for Dorking, shooting just over.
The game became bogged down in a succession of free-kicks and there was an unfortunate stoppage for the Lions as Binfield and Broadbent collided in the Pagham area.
The keeper was down for some considerable time as physio Ryan Pharo treated him. After a thorough check-over, Binfield was able to continue.
Ryan Davidson headed just wide from a corner, while Ruben French pinged a shot wide after good work by Andy Brown. Dan Martin’s superb last-ditch clearance on the half-hour thwarted a Dorking chance.
Wanderers didn’t have to wait long for their goal. Inevitably it was Tolfrey who scored, making the most of a Pagham defensive slip to slide a left-sided shot past a diving James Binfield.
Daryl Coleman fired a shot wide and picked up a booking in the space of a couple of minutes. As the first half ended, Scott Murfin almost got an equaliser, his shot being saved by Dorking keeper Keiran Campbell.
After the break, Rob Brown was booked for Pagham after a tussle with Dorking’s Oylett, the latter only receiving a talking-to, much to the crowd’s surprise.
Kew could have marked his return with a goal, but the shot went wide. Kew and Liam O’Connor were replaced by Ryan Morey and Rob Wimble.
Coleman shot past the upright and Campbell was again the hero for Dorking as he saved a French shot.
On 64 minutes, Pagham’s chance to equalise came in dramatic fashion. Luke Hackett’s shirt-tug in the area was spotted by the referee, who pointed to the spot.
After a laughably lengthy delay while Campbell sorted his laces out, and got a yellow card for his troubles, up stepped Scott Murfin to take the spot kick. But the kick was sent over the bar.
Wimble hit the side netting for Pagham, while Neil Murfin’s injury woes continued as he had to be replaced by Lloyd Rowlatt.
Coleman and Dorking sub Charlie Pitcher tested Binfield, who pulled off a superb save to deny them another goal.
Martin had the shot of the game on 85 minutes, forcing a world-class save from Campbell. The corner saw Wimble’s header also saved.
In time added on, there was still time for Scott Murfin to pick up a booking for diving.
Pagham visit Eastbourne United AFC this Saturday.
PAGHAM: Binfield, A Brown, French, O’Connor (Morey 59), Davidson, Broadbent, Martin, N Murfin (Rowlatt 73), R Brown, S Murfin, Kew (Wimble 59). Subs not used: Richer, Bradshaw.