Three goals, all with an element of fortune about them, finished Pagham’s title challenge on a warm, sunny afternoon with a 3-0 defeat at Haywards Heath.
To be fair, even with the fortunate goals, there was only ever going to be one winner – and it wasn’t Pagham.
Lions keeper James Binfield had to be sharp to turn a Blues shot around the post as early as the first minute, a warning not heeded by the away side.
A scrappy game littered with niggly fouls went the home team’s way when they went 1-0 up in the tenth minute. A horrible mix-up in the Pagham defence left striker Max Miller free to drive the ball under Binfield.
With the Lions struggling to stamp their authority on the game, Haywards Heath went 2-0 up in the 17th minute, when an even more horrendous piece of defending left Alex Laing clear to drive the ball into the corner of the net.
It could easily have been 3-0 three minutes later when Scott Chamberlain forced Binfield into another fine save.
Pagham finally got a shot on target in the 29th minute when Blues keeper Heyburn was forced into a low save at the feet of Dan Simmonds.
Pagham made a change at half-time, bringing on Terrell Lewis for Jamie Horncastle in an attempt to wrestle some control back, and Lloyd Rowlatt was a bit unlucky to see his 25-yard drive fly over the bar soon after.
On the hour mark Pagham produced their second attempt on target, but a weak Daryl Wollers header from a Rowlatt free-kick did not trouble Heyburn.
Ten minutes later Binfield was back in action, making a good low save to give his side a glimmer of a chance that they never looked like taking.
Ryan Cox, who had only just come on for James Thurgar, was booked for a high tackle as time slipped away. Pagham thought they had a penalty when Callum Overton seemed to be brought down by keeper Heyburn, but the referee ordered a drop-ball after consulting his assistant.
In a final throw of the dice Johan van Driel was sent on for Andy Chick, but it was too little too late. The Lions’ third and final shot on goal came to nothing when a desperate 30-yard blast from Simmonds went straight at the keeper in the 92nd minute.
The game was well and truly put to bed when, a minute later, a shot from Miller from 12 yards took a wicked deflection and dropped into the net for 3-0.
Pagham: Binfield, Wiggans, Wollers, Davidson, Booker, Horncastle (Lewis), Thurgar (Cox), Chick (van Driel), Simmonds, Rowlatt, Overton. Subs not used: Bingham, Jefkins.
Pagham Res 2 AFC Varndeanians Res 1
SCFL Reserve Section
Pagham stamped their mark on top-of-the-table AFC Varndeanians with a home win.
The home side started the brighter but Vardeanians took the lead in the 15th minute as the visitors found themselves with space on a breakaway for Maxim Lejeune to rifle the ball past Jordan Matthews.
Pagham levelled eight minutes later as Harry Hendrick got on to a Jack Parkinson cross, slotting the ball past goalkeeper Janos Bodi.
Pagham took the lead on 59 minutes as Scott Rafferty beat his defender to find Tom Gannon coming in at the far post to tap the ball in.
Keiron Playe-Howard let fly from just outside the area but Bodi flung himself to tip the ball over the bar.
Scott Rafferty was brought down for a penalty but his spot-kick was well-saved – but the hosts held out for all three points.