New Midhurst boss Dave Berkowitz had a baptism of fire as the Stags were feasted on by the Lions of Pagham in a one-sided Peter Bentley Challenge Cup tie.
Pagham, who were 4-0 winners, were on the attack from the start, although for Midhurst Nial McKenley-Burke hared into the Lions area only for his shot to go well over.
First goal came on eight minutes from Ryan Morey, latching on to a Liam Humphreys ball to smash home past Stags’ keeper Tom Chaplin.
Midhurst had chances to equalise, McKenley-Burke forcing a fingertip save from James Binfield.
The second goal wasn’t too long in coming, Humphreys getting a second bite of the cherry after Chaplin pushed a shot away.
Chaplin was proving no comedian in Midhurst’s goal, a superb parry on 19 minutes denying Wiggans.
Goal number three involved Josh Irish supplying the pass that Lloyd Rowlatt stroked past Tom Chaplin.
Humphreys tested the Stags with a shot over the bar. Scott Murfin’s time looked to be up as he appeared troubled by a tight hamstring.
A defensive mix-up on 36 minutes almost cost the Lions a goal, the alertness of Binfield saving their blushes.
Morey struck a fine shot on 40 minutes, but Chaplin was in place to collect the ball. Minutes before the break, Humphreys was unlucky to collect a booking, while Morey’s fine run and shot should have put the Lions even further ahead.
Andy Brown and Josh Irish came on for Murfin and Shay Wiggans after the interval. Goal number three involved Josh Irish supplying the pass that Lloyd Rowlatt stroked past Chaplin.
Two minutes later it was 4-0, Irish latching on to a Jordan Warren cross to hit home.
Scott Dormer tried his luck for the visitors, striking a ball which was deflected for a corner.
Joe Shelley’s ball into the Midhurst area caused confusion, only for Chaplin to gather. An excellent ball from Darryl Wollers to Irish saw him hit one just over.
On the hour Midhurst sub Alex Brazier went down under a challenge from Warren. With the Midhurst player rolling around, cries of derision came from the crowd.
Former Lion Lewis Hamilton was moving the ball around for the Stags, only for his efforts to go unrewarded.
Warren’s attacking play almost paid dividends on 65 minutes, Irish heading goalwards but Chaplin rescuing the visitors. Irish hit the post among a plethora of shots on goal. A frantic last few minutes saw the home side desparately defending, the Lions had to make do with a fine victory against hardy opponents.
Pagham: Binfield, Wiggans (A Brown 45), French, Kempson, Wollers, Humphreys (Bingham 73), Shelley, Rowlatt, Morey, S Murfin (Irish 45), Warren. Subs: Mepham, Crouch.
Midhurst: Chaplin, Castleton, Hunt, May, Norgate, Kempten, Dormer, Hyde, Hamilton, Stevens, McKenley-Burke. Subs: Boughton, Hotston, Sheldrick, Brazier, Martin.
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