Pagham make their point but are held by East Preston

Pagham put East Preston under pressure / Picture by Roger Smith
Pagham put East Preston under pressure / Picture by Roger Smith

Pagham kept the pressure on table-topping Horsham YMCA with a hard-fought point in a 0-0 draw against East Preston under the Nyetimber Lane lights.

Had it not been for East Preston keeper Ben Purkis, Pagham could have won comfortably.

The first quarter-hour was almost all Pagham, Callum Overton having more than one chance to put the Lions ahead.

East Preston’s first opportunity came as a free-kick saw James Binfield racing from Pagham’s goal to clear his lines.

A controversial offside decision robbed Dan Simmonds of a chance. East Preston’s Luke Brodie and Cian Tilley were a handful for Pagham’s defence, and only wayward finishing kept the visitors from taking the lead.

James Thurgar’s shot just after the half-hour went wide before good work by Joe Kilhams forced another opening. An Overton shot on 39 minutes was hacked off the line.

Simmonds went one on one with Purkis but the chance went begging.

After the break, three chances in three minutes could have seen the Lions 3-0 up. Ryan Cox’s chip on to the roof of the net was followed by an Overton toe-poke which went wide – then Simmonds skimmed the upright.

Overton raced towards goal, only to be hacked down by Josh Etherington, who was booked. From the free-kick Purkis punched the ball away and then Lions skipper Jamie Horncastle shot narrowly over.

On 63 minutes Overton appeared to be tripped as the ball came in. The referee ruled there had been a foul on Purkis.

Binfield was again at his best as EP sub Hayden Hunter arrowed one goalwards. Jake Heryet struck a fine shot across the Lions goal.

Purkis again proved East Preston’s saviour as he denied Terrell Lewis and Overton.

The Lions did have the ball in the net on 84 minutes, Simmonds shot going beyond Purkis. The offside flag ruled it out.

Purkis went down injured with three minutes left but was able to continue. His punch from an 88th minute corner spelled the end of Pagham’s win hopes.

Pagham go to AFC Uckfield on Saturday then entertain Chi City on Monday - the latter game kicking off at 11am.

Pagham: Binfield, Kilhams, Cox, Davidson, Booker, Horncastle, Thurgar (Playle-Howard 87), Chick, Simmonds, Lewis (Bingham 74), Overton. Subs: Rafferty, Rowlatt

E Preston: Purkis, Da Costa, Beaney, Searle, Lyne, Etherington, Heryet, Barnes, Tilley, Huet, Brodie. Subs: Parazo, Gilbertson, Quirke, Hunter, Donaldson.

JON ROSE