Seven goals, four penalties, two red cards... what a crazy game at the Lashmar as Pagham won 4-3 at East Preston in the first round of the FA Vase.
The quality of the football didn’t match the scoreline as the leader of county divisions one and two matched each other, with the intervention of the referee the dominant feature.
The opening stages saw East Preston the better side with Lee Garnham and Charlie Oatway stretching Pagham’s defence. Oatway was unlucky when his header went narrowly over the bar.
James Temple looked lively for the Lions as did Scott Murfin, who could have scored in the first minute when he was put through by Alex Ward. Temple saw a shot blocked by former Lion Alex Bryant in EP’s goal.
The home side thought they’d opened the scoring when another former Lion, George Gaskin netted, only to see it disallowed for offside.
They did take the lead five minutes later when the first of three penalties was awarded. Lee Garnham was tripped in the area and Alex Duncan slotted home the spot-kick.
Another penalty soon followed, this time for the Lions. Neil Murfin was the fall-guy, brother Scott equalising with a well-taken kick.
Bookings were coming thick and fast, with Tom Broadbent’s the most unjust after a rash tackle from EP’s Alex Duncan on Broadbent seconds earlier was missed.
Oatway ran through only for Wes Hallett to pull off a great stop. Two minutes into first-half injury time, East Preston were awarded another penalty and Duncan made it 2-1.
Three minutes into the second half, referee Mr Mallows was again in the thick of it. A second booking for Broadbent saw the Lions down to ten men.
Matt Axell shot wide from long range and Oatway hit the post from close range. Garnham was unlucky to see his name go into the book on 58, while the game’s fourth penalty on the hour saw Scott Murfin take revenge for being hacked down.
Three more bookings came and went - two for EP, one for Pagham. The save of the game came on 65 minutes as Hallett superbly tipped over a fierce shot from Garnham.
The home side went 3-2 up with a Garnham header before the Lions hit the side netting.
Bryant was lucky to escape with only a booking as he pulled his opponent down. The free-kick resulted in Pagham’s third, an awesome strike from youngster Dan Simmonds.
George Gaskin’s free-kick at the other end had neither the power nor the accuracy to beat Hallett.
EP went down to ten men on 84 minutes as Lee Barnard collected his second booking.
The winner came with three minutes left, another stunner from Simmonds. There was still time for another couple of bookings before the whistle went.
Pagham host Peacehaven in the next round on November 19.
PAGHAM: Hallett, Buckland, Broadbent, Pearce, Ward, Jones (Frangou 26), Hinshelwood, N Murfin, Temple, S Murfin, Urquhart (Simmonds 26). Subs not used: Cox, Robinson.