March’s team of the month Pagham have continued their fine Southern Combination premier form into April, taking three points with a dramatic late winner that saw off last season’s champions Littlehampton 2-1.
Ex-Golds boss Mark Bennett saw the Lions complete the double over his old side as Terrell Lewis struck to secure the win.
Early on, the visitors took the game to Pagham.
A game hampered by the officials sticking to the letter of the law saw a number of free-kicks disrupt the flow.
Golds went close to scoring with Rob Hutchings looking dangerous up front, but the alertness of James Binfield kept the score goalless.
Lewis and Scott Murfin did their best to carve openings, keeping Littlehampton keeper Jon Hendrick busy.
Murfin had two gilt-edged chances to score, first with a shot that went just wide, then with a strike which went across the goal.
An offside decision robbed them of another chance and Ryan Cox put a header wide.
The Lionswent close to a breakthrough a minute into the second period. A ball in from a free-kick was converted by Rob Brown, only for him to be harshly booked for a challenge on Hendrick.
Mitchell Cane, a product of Pagham’s succesful youth side, was having a good game at right-back but a booking on 49 minutes took the shine off.
Dan Swain was next to see yellow, following the referee and an assistant consulting.
A Hutchings shot went well wide, not helped by the wind, while Murfin’s daisycutter on 62 minutes was also off-target.
Josh Bates was having a massive game at the back for Golds, charging down anything that came his way.
Murfin struck the side netting on 73 minutes, then scored an opportunistic opener three minutes later. Huge cheers from the fans were matched by Murfin racing away, waving his shirt above his head, and getting the inevitable booking.
A minute later, Dan Swain fouled a Littlehampton striker in the area. The referee proceeded to book Jake Hawker, much to the derision of the Littlehampton fans, and the penalty was superbly saved by Binfield.
David Crouch replaced Murfin with ten minutes to go before Rob Brown had a possible penalty appeal turned down as he tumbled in the area, while Cane’s game ended early with a red card. A shot at the Pagham goal was pushed away by Cane, leaving the referee no option but to send off the distraught youngster.
Worse was to come for the Lions as the subsequent penalty beat Binfield, George Gaskin making no mistake.
This seemed to rile the Pagham bench, with assistant boss Richie Hellen spoken to by the referee.
More drama unfolded in the final couple of minutes – first Lewis’ run at goal resulted in a winner, then Pagham substitute George Cody was shown a red card while not on the pitch. The reason it was shown was not clear.
PAGHAM: Binfield; Cane, Warren, Hawker, Swain, N Murfin, Bingham, Lewis, R Brown, S Murfin (Crouch 80), Cox. Subs: Marsh, Thurger, Cody, A Brown.
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