Pagham roared to a 3-0 lead in just over half an hour against Horsham YMCA in division one of the Sussex League – but ended up only just snatching a win.
The opening goal came in two minutes as a Scott Murfin cross was slammed past Mark Fox in YM’s goal by Ryan Morey.
Two minutes later, Murfin turned scorer as Rob Brown’s movement wrongfooted Fox and Murfin struck his 22nd goal of the season.
The visitors exerted pressure but poor finishing let them down while more heroics from Lions keeper James Binfield kept them out.
Dale Hayes got through good work at the back. For Horsham, Liam Hunter had a free-kick charged down, while Sullivan brothers Nick and Dan looked for an opening.
Dan Evans’ strike was headed away by Lee Bradshaw and then Binfield raced from his area to clear another threat.
Ryan Morey had a shot from a corner ruled offside. Dave Brown sent a shot over the bar for YM, but goal number three for the Lions came just after the half hour, Andy Brown’s pin-point cross being headed home by Liam O’Connor.
The Lions’ Sam Garnett had to leave the field for treatment on a nose-cut. The visitors piled on the pressure and a lapse in the Lions’ backline let YM in for their first goal as Tony Hibbert struck from close range.
Binfield was again forced to come out of his area and a booking for Rob Brown completed a competitive first period of play.
Three minutes after the restart, Pagham’s O’Connor saw yellow for encroaching at a free-kick.
Fox was able to deal with Pagham’s raids but the visitors were now the better side.
Dan Martin and Luca-Coleman Carr replaced Sam Garnett and Andy Brown.
Morey caught Liam Hunter and became the next in the referee’s book.
It was 3-2 on 68 minutes, Nick Sullivan appearing to get the last touch to leave the Lions with a nervous last 20 minutes.
Dale Hayes picked up a yellow card and YM manager Peter Buckfield was sent to the stands after too many complaints to the assistant referee.
Josh Brown missed when it was easier to score for the visitors and Binfield pulled off a string of saves.
YM pair Dean Carden and Hunter saw yellow – and soon Hunter headbutted his opposite number in Pagham’s area and the inevitable red card followed.
PAGHAM: Binfield, Hayes, French, Garnett (Martin 61), Bradshaw, Davidson, A Brown (Coleman-Carr 61), O’Connor, R Brown, S Murfin, Morey (Rowlatt 75). Subs: Wimble, Riches.
* Goals from Rob Brown and Scott Murfin earned Pagham a 2-0 midweek win at Ringmer to take them second in the table.