REPORT and PICTURES: Battle of the big cats goes Pagham's way
On a day when the Lions could easily have notched double figures, they hadÂ enough to see off promotion rivals Saltdean United.
The 3-0 win leaves Pagham in second place, a point behind the leaders and a point in front of the team in third - so it's all to play for with five games left, starting at home to Broadbridge Heath on Tuesday night.
A series of early Saltdean corners came to nothing and both sides created several half-chances, none of which was converted ... before the Lions started to take complete command.
Inevitably it was Pagham top-scorer Dan Simmonds who gave his side the lead after 24 minutes, when he was first to react to a high, spinning deflected shot to smash home from five yards. Simmonds could have had his and Pagham’s second after 32 minutes but he just failed to get his toe to a James Thurgar flick across goal.
See Roger Smith's pictures from the game, above
More than a few Lions attacks were negated by the offside flag before Simmonds wasted two excellent chances in time added on at the end of the first half. First, he drove a shot high, wide and handsome, then, second time around, he shot well wide of the target, both times having been put clear, and onside, one-on-one with Tigers keeper Rikki Banks. As the whistle went for half-time Simmonds left the field with his head held low in sheer disbelief.
The second half started with another couple of chances for the Lions top scorer, both saved by keeper Banks, the first at the striker’s feet and the second pushing away a fierce drive from the edge of the box.
On 55 minutes Simmonds got his name on the scoresheet once again after a crisp Pagham move from one end to the other. Ryan Davidson won the ball in defence and hit a long ball down the right wing for Callum Overton to chase. His excellent cross was hit on to the post by James Thurgar and Simmons, following up, had the simple task of putting the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes later it was 3-0 when another excellent cross by Overton was converted with some panache at the far post by Thurgar.
Pagham keeper James Binfield was forced into his first real save in the 74th minute when he managed to clear an excellent low drive from Saltdean’s Lucas Franzen-Jones and despite three late substitutions by the Lions the game looked like it was petering out at 3-0.
Richie Hellen and Tom Simmonds' team were having none of it though and the excellent Lloyd Rowlatt (twice) and sub Kieron Playe-Howard could have added to the total before the final whistle went.
Pagham: Binfield, Wiggans, Wollers, Davidson, Booker, Horncastle (Kilhams), Thurgar (Jefkins), Chick, Simmonds (Playe-Howard), Rowlatt, Overton. Subs not used: Bingham, van Driel.