Gosport too good for Pagham - but only after a battle

Pagham continued their build-up to the new season with a solid display against Southern League premier side Gosport.

Having won the play-offs last year Gosport are two divisions higher than the Sussex League but the Lions gave a good account of themselves.

Prolific striker Justin Bennett caused the Pagham rearguard early problems. Next to trouble the Lions was former Pompey midfielder Sammy Igoe, who twisted in the area and scuffed a low shot between a defender’s legs and into the bottom corner of new Pagham keeper Andy Smallpiece’s net.

This seemed to kick-start Pagham, and the Lions matched their visitors in all areas in front of a crowd of around 150.

There was an early-season injury scare for boss John Price as top scorer Scott Murfin limped out of the action as he seemed to jar his knee. He was replaced in attack by Howard Neighbour and is likely to be out for a couple of weeks.

Neighbour began to cause Gosport problems with his strong hold-up play along with the powerful running of strike-partner James Temple.

After the break, Pagham’s best chance fell to Callum Cutler, who fired wide from inside the area after good build-up play from Briggs, Temple and Neighbour.

Pagham made changes with Williams, Champion and Buckland coming on for Cutler, Temple and the outstanding Jones.

Smallpiece made two excellent stops from Bennett, the first a great one-on-one save diving at the forward’s feet as he seemed just about to roll the ball into the net.

Pagham continued to drive forward but on 83 minutes a rather cheap free kick on the left of Pagham’s area was gave Smallpiece no chance.

This gave the final scoreline a rather flattering edge.

Price was pleased with a hard workout against good-quality opposition.