Pagham pounce to put three past Heath!
By Tony Shea
Hat-trick hero Simmo, earnt The Lions a victory over league leaders Heath on Saturday.
Dan Simmonds superb triple strike saw the Lions win and & go fourth in the League. The visitors came to Nyetimber Lane clear at the top of the table, but that counted for nothing as Pagham were simply brilliant in a win almost no-one could have expected.
The Lions unbeaten run stretches back to the middle of October , and the Blues' did little to end that.
Early action centred around free-kicks, with Blues' skipper Tom Graves going closest for the away side. Pagham however were shooting for fun. Lloyd Rowlatt took advantage of 'Heath defensive hesitancy to feed Dan Simmonds, only for the shot to go wide.
Andy Chick was again masterful in midfield, pinging passes forward to give the Lions strikers much to feed on.
Heath had a good chance of their own around the quarter hour, Alfie Rogers picking up a pass from George Hayward .Pagham's defence held firm though.
Great work by new arrival James Thurgar allowed Rowlatt time and space to hit a shot just wide of Simon Lehkyj's post. A free-kick from Callum Saunders saw a shot whistle just over the bar.
James Binfield was called into action just before the half hour, saving well from an Alex Laing shot.
A Lions corner gave Callum Overton sight of goal after collecting a Rowlatt pass. The shot went over the bar, but the Lions were by far the more "up for it".
With the visitors' nearest rivals involved in FA Vase action, they needed to ensure a win to keep clear at the top. They were rather muted though, and all credit to the Lions as they kept the visitors at bay, leaving the game equal at nil-nil come half time.
No changes at the break, with a superb save from Lehkyj preventing Pagham from taking an early lead. Haywards Heath did try and push forward, Laing being a particular threat but it was still the Lions who ran the show.
Dan Simmonds & Callum Overton were looking like scoring at every opportunity, and it was a surprise that the first goal didn't come until the 70th minute. It was well worth the wait though, Simmonds scything run cutting through the Blues' backline before striking a superb solo effort beyond Lehkyj.
A questionable decision by the officials could have handed 'Heath the equaliser on 74 minutes, as they were awarded a free-kick controversially. A terribly taken free-kick saw justice done for the Lions.
Bailie Rogers became the first player to leave the field, a challenge ending his involvement in the game. On came Joel Daly in an enforced change for 'Heath.
James Thurgar could have got his second in as many games with a header that went close to the mark.
Dan Simmonds' second goal followed a left-sided attack which gave him time and space to shoot past Lehkyj.
With just under five minutes left of normal time, Pagham made sure of the points. Callum Overton went on a run which could have seen him score before Simmonds wrapped up his hat-trick. Lloyd Rowlatt's ball in gave Simmonds a gilt edged opportunity and Lehkyj no chance as the visitors ended a miserable afternoon for them on the end of a comprehensive 3-0 deafeat.
Pagham; J.Binfield, S.Wiggans, R.Cox, R.Davidson, J.Booker, J.Horncastle, L.Rowlatt, A.Chick, D.Simmonds(D.Crouch 89), C.Overton, J.Thurgar; D.Wollers, G.Bingham, J.Ashmore
Haywards Heath Town; S.Lehkyj, L.Doherty, B.Rogers, K.Akehurst, N.Cooper, T.Graves, C.Saunders, S.Chamberlain, A.Rogers, G.Hayward, A.Laing; J.Weston, J.Daley, O.Bukle, M.Miller.
Match report by Jon Rose
Photo by Roger Smith