Start to Sussex League season is far from perfect for Pagham

Howard Neighbour battles for possession in the defeat to Littlehampton  Picture by Roger Smith
Howard Neighbour battles for possession in the defeat to Littlehampton Picture by Roger Smith

It’s been a poor start to the Sussex League season for Pagham with defeats in their first two games.

They’ll be hoping for better in Saturday’s home FA Cup tie with Tunbridge Wells.

East Grinstead 4 Pagham 1

Sussex League division one

Pagham aimed to get the season off to a flyer with three points - but a strong home side had not read the script and duly dispatched John Price’s Lions 4-1 to collect a deserved home victory.

Pagham lined up the same side who had beaten higher-level North Greenford a week earlier, but Pagham seemed to start slowly and had James Binfield to thank for keeping the scoreline level with a fine one-handed save in the tenth minute.

The home side took lead when centre-half John Sinclair powerfully headed a corner on 16 minutes - but Pagham fought back and soon levelled through a scrappy goal. As the ball bobbled around in the box, Ryan Cox seemed to get the final touch to deflect it home.

Pagham enjoyed a good period of possesion to pin the home side back.

The second half started badly for Pagham - they still seemed to be in the dressing room as first sloppy play allowed Tyrone Pink to steal in at the far post to make it 2-1 then Sam Schaaf scored quickly after to give the home side a 3-1 advantage.

Pagham created some good chances to fight back but James Ford and Howard Neighbour both headed chances straight at the home keeper when it seemed easier to score. Then the usually-deadly Scott Murfin scuffed a shot wide with only the keeper to beat.

These let-offs galvanised the home side and they sealed victory with a late Marc Pelling goal from another corner to make it a very bad day for the Lions.

Pagham 0 Littlehampton 2

Sussex League division one

Pagham’s pointless start to the season continued with a home defeat against newly-promoted Littlehampton, who saw off the hosts with two second-half goals.

As early as the first minute, Jamie Thompson went on a searing run for Littlehampton, only for the ball to be hacked away.

Scott Murfin forced Littlehampton keeper Jon Hendrick into an unorthodox header to clear. Joe Briggs looked threatening for the Lions.

Pagham boss John Price was forced into an 11th-minute change through an injury to Connor Geoghegan which brought Jake Hawker into the fray. Murfin had a chance just after the quarter-hour, his own hesitation costing him.

Referee Mr Myhill awarded a multitude of free-kicks throughout the match, some mystifying.

On the half-hour came, a blistering strike from Briggs forced Hendrick to save well.

A booking for Littlehampton’s Josh Bates was the first of many that spoiled the flow. Next in the book was Gary Peters for the visitors.

The first half ended with a run at Pagham’s goal by Scott Packer, who was stopped by an offside flag.

Littlehampton attacked from the restart. Mark Burgess was clean through, only for the Lions defence to hold firm. A free-kick for Littlehampton saw Mitchell Hand’s strike smash into the area but rebound away harmlessly.

Murfin’s solo run deserved a goal but it was the visitors who opened the scoring on 51 minutes, substitute O’Callaghan forcing the ball past Lee Arnell.

Murfin’s snap-shot just missed the target before Pagham’s Ryan Cox saw yellow for a foul.

Another great save from Hendrick on the hour kept Littlehampton ahead but the visitors’ passing carved holes in the Lions ranks.

Howard Neighbour hit the side netting for Pagham on 69 minutes, but the visitors scored next. A dreadful backpass completely wrongfooted Arnell and the Lions’ keeper was helpless as the ball was easily stroked into the back of the net.

Neil Murfin marked his return from injury with a yellow card after only three minutes back on the pitch. Neighbour headed over the bar while O’Callaghan tried his luck again with a shot that was wide.

PAGHAM: Arnell, Buckland (MCcoy 78), French, Pearce, Geoghegan (Hawker 11), Bradshaw, Briggs, Jefkins(N Murfin 71), Neighbour, S Murfin, R Cox. Subs not used: Hamilton, Binfield.