Pagham went down 3-0 to Saltdean in their first home game of the season, despite dominating the second half of play.
Two early goals put them on the back foot and try as they might they just couldn’t get back in the game.
Saltdean smashed two very early long shots way over the bar but it was a shame for the home side when the visitors hit the front in the 15th minute as the game up until then had been very end to end. A free kick just over halfway was nodded back across the penalty area and knocked home at the far post by Alex Laing.
Disaster struck the Lions just three minutes later when Jack Langford twisted and turned on the edge of the area before striking a perfect shot low into the corner. Pagham’s first shot on target came in the 24th minute, Jake Heryet’s shot being straight at the Tigers keeper, having been set up by George Cody.
Two minutes later they had cause to regret it as Saltdean went 3-0 up after the goal of the game by Jamie Craddock, who hit a lovely curling shot from just outside the area past Lewis Boughton in the Pagham goal.
Pagham had two chances to get on the scoresheet before half-time, when skipper Jack Barnes struck his shot inches wide of the far post, set up once again by Cody, and Barnes’ free kick drew a great save from Saltdean keeper D’Cruz.
Pagham came out after the break looking much sharper but without achieving too much in and around the Tigers goal, despite making a double change, bringing on Cian Tilley and Scott Rafferty for George Britton and Scott Slaughter.
Matt Searle maybe should have done better from two yards, but his shot ballooned up and over the bar in the 62nd minute. Despite much huffing and puffing, Pagham just not carve out any real chances and even picked up a sin-bin visit for Cody for their trouble. Lewis Jenkins came on for Searle but whatever they tried, and try they certainly did, nothing would go right for the Lions.
That was until ten minutes from the end, when Ryan Hallett blasted a superb shot from 20 odd yards that keeper D’Cruz pulled out all the stops to claw wide. Barnes also had another good attempt just wide before, right at the death, Boughton pulled off the save of the game with a superb double stop at point blank range to thwart the onrushing Saltdean forwards.
Pagham: Boughton, da Costa, Hallett, Slaughter (Rafferty), Searle (Jenkins), Geoghegan, Britton (C Tilley), Barnes, Heryet, Clarke, Cody. Subs: S Tilley, Albar.