Pagham and Chichester City had differing fortunes when they both took on sides from Eastbourne in the SCFL premier division.
Here are the reports - and don’t forget Chi and the Lions meet at Oaklands Park on Boxing Day at 11am.
Pagham 2 Eastbourne United AFC 3
SCFL premier division
The Lions handed out an early Christmas present to the visitors as another late winner condemned Pagham to a narrow home defeat.
The loss left the Lions fifth in the table, leaving many wondering if this season’s cup distractions were taking their toll on league form.
Following an impeccably-observed minute’s silence for the passing of Sussex referee Andy Goddard, the Lions roared into an early lead as Scott Murfin capitalised on an error by United keeper Phil Hawkins to score the opener on nine minutes.
Callum Hart went close for the visitors while a succesion of free-kicks for Pagham bought protests from United manager Tobi Hutchinson and chances galore for the Lions. Hawkins was forced to tip the ball over the bar from one.
For United, Max Hollobone went on a solo run only to be forced wide on 24 minutes.
A minute later it was 1-1. Liam Baitup was upended in the area, the referee pointed to the spot and Baitup tucked away the rebound from the spot-kick.
A goalmouth scramble on the half-hour might have given the Lions the lead, but the ball was cleared. Lloyd Rowlatt needed the services of Pagham physio Colin Mills as he was bought down.
Rowlatt shaved a post on 43 minutes after a clever Lions build-up.
The second half started with Hart having a good run only for the ball to go out of play. United’s Bailo Camara was put through a minute later, but Daryl Wollers was on hand to hack the ball away.
Pagham’s best player on the day, Rowlatt, had another chance to score when he headed just over.
Liam Humphreys was left ruing his luck on 64 minutes as a tremendous move started by Neil Murfin left him with the goal at his mercy. Agonisingly the ball rebounded off the bar and away.
Pagham boss Mark Bennett brought on George Bingham and James Thurgar to replace Jordan Clark and Ryan Morey.
With 20 minutes to go, it was 2-1 to United as Hart smacked in a short-range shot to give the visitors the edge.
The advantage lasted five minutes as a superb low shot from Neil Murfin rocketed past Hawkins.
But it wasn’t long before the visitors scored again. Another penalty, which saw Bingham booked, allowed Baitup to score his second.
United went looking for another goal, both Baitup and Hart going close.
A Scott Murfin free-kick was forced out for a goal-kick and the game was up for Pagham.
The Lions visit Chichester City on Boxing Day for a festive derby with more than just pride up for grabs.
Pagham: Binfield, N Murfin, Warren, Swain, Wollers, Humphreys, Clark (Bingham 66), Rowlatt, Pamment, S Murfin, Morey (Thurgar 66). Subs not used: Cox, Davidson, Irish
Eastbourne: Hawkins, Denton, Divall, Hollobone, Davidson, Featherstone, Andrews, Dove, Hart, Baitup, Camara. Subs: Dallaway, Paul, Painter, Lee.
Eastbourne Town 2 Chichester City 3
SCFL premier division
Chi City travelled to Eastbourne for the second time in a week – and this time came away with a victory that put them into the top three.
Four days after their county cup defeat to Eastbourne Borough, City boss Miles Rutherford took his side to Eastbourne Town.
The game started with Eastbourne on top in front of a large crowd.
The pressure resulted in Eastbourne getting a penalty after a dubious handball decision after only five minutes. Jason Taylor converted the penalty past Ant Ender – and Town could have doubled their lead but for the in-form Chichester keeper.
Chichester started to work their way back into the game with Josh Clack looking dangerous with the ball and Dan Hegarty controlling central areas.
City started applying pressure on the Eastbourne goal with Scott Jones beginning to create chances for himself.
From a corner, Jones headed home the equaliser on 34 minutes.
The game became scrappy with both teams playing long balls. Eastbourne took advantage of a long ball beating Chi centre-back Ellis Martin in the air and Evan Archibald chipping Ender to restore their lead.
Chichester responded immediately with the impressive Hegarty heading home a cross just before half-time to make it 2-2.
The second half started well for Chichester as they controlled possession and moved the ball forward through the central players.
The game stayed tight and both teams started committing more bodies forward.
Chichester worked the ball well on the right, with Max Thoms driving into the area only to be stopped by a poor challenge by an Eastbourne defender, giving Chi a penalty on 74 minutes.
Martin converted it to put them 3-2 up and Chichester held on for the win which left them third.
The only sour point saw Thoms sent off late on for a exchange with the Eastbourne keeper which only the assistant referee saw.
Chi won again on Tuesday night, triumphing 3-1 at Lancing. That left them three points clear in third place.
Chichester look forward to hosting Pagham, who they have now leapfrogged, on Boxing Day.
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