Pagham’s under-strength side went to title favourites Eastbourne Town on Saturday and were given a harsh lesson in what it is going to take to work their way towards the top of the league.
The Lions tried their best and managed to eke out a few chances of their own but were unable to take advantage of the periods of possession that they enjoyed.
The Lions forged out the first chance of the game when Tom Chalaye shot over the bar, having been well set up by Jared Rance. They were made to regret that missed chance when Town went in front in the seventh minute. The home side broke free down the middle and Dan Perry finished from six yards.
Eastbourne piled the pressure on and had several chances to increase their lead but some poor finishing and excellent Pagham defending kept them out. Midfielder Tom Line picked up a nasty looking leg injury and was replaced by Scott Slaughter.
On a rare Pagham breakaway, Rance knocked an excellent low cross into the box that was agonisingly just inches in front of Chalaye but with the odd breakaway excepted it was the home side that were pushing hard.
And just when it looked like the Lions would hold the home side to a one goal half-time lead, they struck again. In the 41st minute, a deep cross from the right was smashed onto the underside of the bar and the rebound nodded in at the far post by Perry.
The second half started as the first finished, with the Town pushing forward, and Pagham keeper Lewis Boughton was called into action several times, including one terrific one-on-one save. Eastbourne duly scored their third goal after 56 minutes when sub Jack McLean, on his club debut, rifled home from the edge of the area.
Hayden Hunter and Jake Heryet replaced Harrison Mott and Joe Clarke and Hunter was immediately in the action, shooting wide from 20 yards, and Rance smashed a 25-yard free-kick straight at the keeper as Pagham tried to find a way back into the game. It all ended though with Boughton pulling off another superb save to keep the score down to three.
Pagham: Boughton, Da Costa, Jenkins, Jelley, Clarke (Heryet), Lyne (Slaughter), Geoghegan, Hallett, Chalaye, Rance, Mott (Hunter). Subs not used: Rafferty, Crook.
Pagham host Langney next Saturday (Sept 28).