Late equaliser lays low Lions and shows Chichester are improving

Chichester’s recent revival continued as they snatched a last-gasp equaliser to deny the Lions at Nyetimber Lane.

The 1-1 Sussex League first-division draw – Pagham’s first draw in the league this season – put them three points clear at the top and lifted City another place away from the bottom.

The Lions dominated from the off, with two chances within the opening two minutes. Chichester fought back, with Dean Reed clean through but seeing his effort cleared off the line.

Phil Turner’s run and shot was foiled by an offside flag and Chichester keeper Matt Short was lucky to stay on just before the half-hour. His run out of his area saw him inexplicably handle the ball. Referee Mr Massey took his time before issuing a yellow card.

Pagham’s opening goal came from the resultant free-kick with the ball being fed to Scott Murfin who, with a combination of head and shoulder, bundled the ball past Short.

This heralded a period of pressure from the Lions, James Temple and Scott Murfin both having chances to increase the lead. Howard Neighbour, the ex-Arundel midfielder, struck a sweet free-kick which cannoned off the bar just before half-time.

At the start of the second half, Turner made inroads for the Lions and Jack James was booked for Chichester.

The visitors edged back into the game, with Ben Vassallo looking the part up front. Louis Edwards capitalised on Pagham defensive frailty to surge forward, but his shot was bundled away.

Matt Wood was next to see yellow, following an innocuous challenge on Steve Cotton.

The Lions had the ball in the net on 65 minutes but the offside flag robbed them.

A booking for Pagham’s Phil Turner caused the sizeable crowd to noisily berate the referee.

With 20 minutes to go, Neighbour’s involvement ended as Dan Simmonds came on. Simmonds had been on the pitch less than two minutes before his cross-field ball eluded everyone.

Temple and Harry Bass went close for either side. And deep into injury time, a goal direct from a corner gave Chichester a point that, in the end, their performance merited.

PAGHAM: Hallett, Buckland, Broadbent, Pearce, Booker, N Murfin, Neighbour (Simmonds 81), Wood, Temple, S Murfin, Turner. Subs not used: Binfield, Urquhart, Frangou, Cox, Robinson

CHICHESTER: Short, Carrington, Jordan, Portas, Bass, Archibald, James, Mait, Reed, Vassallo, Edwards. Subs: Johnson, Brown, Wallis, Cotton, McDuffie.

JON ROSE