Pagham were left all at sea as Newhaven’s Dockers took all three points in a well-deserved victory on Saturday.
Jon Tucker’s troops knew a win could lift them into third place, and after scoring 16 in their past three games, hopes were high.
But those were quickly dented as early as the fourth minute, Craig Bunch’s header giving James Binfield no chance in Pagham’s crowded area.
A short period of Pagham pressure saw Scott Murfin hit the side netting, but even that was against the run of play, as Henry Daly was given space before striking a shot that Binfield did well to save.
George Cody’s speculative strike on the quarter-hour was all the Lions had to show, other than a booking for Rob Brown, before the Dockers hit their second – an unstoppable rocket from Lee Robinson on the right greeted as a contender for goal of the season.
Dan Simmonds struck over on the half-hour but Newhaven were still much the better side. Murfin had three chances before the break, though, nothing came of them.
Brown had the first meaningful chance of the second, heading just over for Pagham from a Murfin cross. The visitors were being pegged in their own half as the Lions became more positive, with Dan Swain also having sight of goal.
Man of the match Robinson was all over the pitch for Newhaven, his pace never being properly dealt with by the Lions.
James Binfield again had to rescue Pagham on 55 minutes as Robinson forced a great save from the Lions keeper.
An inexplicable booking for Newhaven’s Connor Sidwell was followed by a free-kick for his own side which was easily cleared.
With less than 20 minutes left, Tucker made a change, although not the one many were expecting. On came Joe Gromett for Andy Brown, leaving Cody on to run off a calf injury picked up earlier.
Terrell Lewis caused panic in the Dockers’ defence on 77 minutes, but they yet again held firm. Alex Kew replaced Cody on 78 minutes, with the game starting to swing towards Pagham but Newhaven held on.
n The Lions won 1-0 at Worthing United in the league on Tuesday thanks to a Josh Irish strike.
PAGHAM: Binfield, A Brown (Gromett 72), Warren, Davidson, Playle-Howard, Lewis, R Brown, S Murfin, Simmonds, Cody (Kew 78). Subs: N Murfin, Boniface.
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