Pagham out of RUR Cup - but young Lions offer hope for future
Pagham crashed out out of the RUR Charity Cup as they fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Eastbourne Town.
The Lions scored an own goal in the first half and Eastbourne’s Aaron Capon doubled the lead in the second half to take them into the semi-finals, where they will face Lancing.
Despite the loss, manager Kerry Hardwell was happy with the attitute and hard work his players put in.
He said: “I was very pleased with the boys’ work-rates and attitudes against an Eastbourne Town who in my opinion will go on to to win this season’s SCFL.
“One thing I’m learning on the job is taking positives away from a defeat and we competed against a top team for 90 minutes.”
Hardwell reshuffled his squad for the game after the loss to Hassocks on Saturday and introduced under-18 players Toby Bull, Josh Webb and James Henton.
On a cold and wet night, there were first starts for Jake Heryet and Jack Hands under the new management.
The Lions surged forward from the first whistle but were unable to hold their authority for long. Town took control and made their superiority count in the 16th minute with the aid of a stunning own goal, caused by a poor defensive lapse.
On 30 minutes, Lions keeper Toby Bull made a stunning save from a one-on-one and the defence cleared another shot off the line to keep the score to 1-0 at half-time.
There was no let-up in the second half as Eastbourne controlled things, scoring a well-taken second goal by Capon in the 78th minute to wrap it up.
Before that Bull had pulled off another excellent one-on-one save, and Town had hit the post.
Pagham’s night got worse when Hands was sent off for his second bookable offence, followed two minutes later by new striker Jimmy Wild having to limp off with an ankle injury, to be replaced by debutant Webb, a young striker promoted from the under-18 side after scoring a hat-trick on Sunday.
In the league Pagham sit second from bottom and have won just three games all season, but Hardwell believes his side has what it takes to maintain premier status.
He added: “I have no doubt with the same desire and attitude moving forward we will pick up points and secure our status in next season’s premier division.”
Pagham take on tenth-placed Alfold at home in the league this weekend and will look to start climbing up the table and steer away from relegation.
Pagham: Bull, Hallett (da Costa), Hands, Clarke, Geoghegan, Clarke, Heryet, Barnes, Wild (Webb), Carroll Searle), Jenkins. Subs not used: Henton, Slaughter.