Pagham were so close to a wonderful comeback from 2-0 down, but when Tom Chalaye stroked his 85th minute penalty wide of the post, their chances of salvaging a point disappeared.
The first half was almost the exact opposite of the contest between the same two teams last week when it was Pagham on top, this time with United in the ascendancy for the most part.
Shots were rare to start with, the Lions having the first one on target in the 26th minute, when Joe Clarke’s effort flew high over the bar. Eastbourne keeper Jordan Hawkins made one more stop three minutes before the interval from Cian Tilley and with Eastbourne only managing one shot on target in the half the referee blew for half-time with the score at 0-0.
After the break, once again the away side were pushing forward and they hit the front in the 48th minute when Alfie Headland headed in a right-wing cross from close in.
The goal spurred Pagham into life and the returning Lindon Miller replaced Jake Heryet to add his size to the attack. Joe Clarke sent a header straight at Hawkins while at the other end Pagham goalie Tom Crook made a stunning save to push a header over the bar.
On 56 minutes it was 2-0 to the visitors, Sam Crabb scoring with an excellent diving header at the far post and Pagham’s day looked over. But whatever else this Lions side lack, it is not heart or spirit and they flew at the United defence in waves. With Tom Chalaye now on for Lewis Jenkins, Pagham had a front three who were causing the Eastbourne defence all sorts of problems.
On 74 minutes, Chalaye slid his shot just wide of the post, before, less than a minute later Tilley headed home from close in and the Lions were back in the game. Pagham were now pushing forward with some determination and it looked like their efforts would pay off when the referee awarded them a penalty for a trip on Chalaye with five minutes left. He took the kick himself but unfortunately struck the ball wide of the goal.
As the game came to a close, Tilley almost stole a point, but his far-post header was cleared off the line and Pagham’s last chance had gone.
Pagham: Crook, da Costa, Beaney, Hallett, Geoghegan (Jelley), Clark, Jenkins (Chalaye), Barnes, Heryet (Miller), C Tilley & Clarke. Subs not used: Searle, Prisk.
* Pagham visit Whitehawk on Tuesday night in the Sussex Senior Cup (745pm).