Replay awaits as Lions draw with Sittingbourne
By Tony Shea
The Lions carry the Brickies into a replay next Tuesday as Richie Hellen's and Tom Simmonds' side almost scored a shock win over higher-league opposition in the cup.
With the Bostik Isthmian League South visitors having reached the 2nd round proper of the FA Cup at least twice in their history, and with a thumping 5-1 away win in their last league game, no one would have been surprised if Pagham had gone out of the cup at this stage.
That they didn't is credit to the management team and a set of players who showed some real fight against the semi-pro visitors.
Things didn't start well for the Lions though, as a mistake in defence allowed Dawodu to strike the ball past a stranded James Binfield.
It could have been two a minute or so later, as Kane Rowland's shot went just wide of the mark.
Joe Kilhams was again looking superb on the wing for Pagham, and one of his searing runs let Calum Overton in, a last minute scramble from Sittingbourne 'keeper Darren Hawkes closing down the threat.
It was now all Pagham, with them looking sharp against a side who only had fleeting periods of dominance. Their speed and strength were telling, but Pagham's hordes weren't there for the taking.
When the away side did have sight of goal, it often ended with wayward shooting. The half hour saw Kilhams' with a great chance of an equaliser, only for the ball to skew across goal.
Pagham went again, Murfin striking toward goal, the rebound falling to Kilhams, then onto Bingham who shot narrowly over.
A cynical foul by Kane Philip on Bingham saw the Sittingbourne player booked, and a Pagham free-kick wasted. David Adekoya was then given far too much space for the visitors, slicing a path downfield that only ended with him shooting wide.
With the half-time whistle blown, the Lions were still very much in the hunt.
No changes for either side at the break, and the Lions began where they left off. Overton and Murfin both had chances to score, with Adekoya probably having the miss of the match at the other end.
Four minutes into the half, and the goal the Lions deserved came. Referee Mr Desborough had no hesitation pointing to the spot when a Pagham player was scythed down. Up stepped Scott Murfin, and to cheers all round the ground the ball rocketed into the back of the net.
Hearts in mouths time for Pagham just after the hour, when a corner almost resulted in the Lions conceding an own goal. A second corner followed, with Binfield's fingertip save seeing the ball get to Overton's feet. His run and long pass to Kilhams saw the latter just unable to get to the ball.
A trio of free-kicks for the Lions saw Rowlatt foiled twice with the dead-ball, before Scott Murfin took the third. The ball reached Lions' skipper Jamie Horncastle, who's skimmed header was oh so close to being on target.
Sittingbourne were still trying their best to keep in the game, substitute David Smith's wild shot on 74 minutes summing up their luck. A minute later off went Joe Kilhams to well deserved applause, George Cody coming on to add to the Lions' teeth up front.
He almost had an immediate effect, building up an attack which saw Scott Murfin able to strike, with the ball skimming the bar.
A probing run for Kane Rowland had Sittingbourne almost ahead, had his shot not been scrambled away for a corner.
With George Bingham carrying a knock, on came Jake Hawker to fill the gap at the back.
A three-pronged attack involving Cody, Murfin and Rowlatt saw the Lions nearly get a late winner, Hawkes getting to the ball first.
Three minutes of normal time left, and Kane Rowland raced into Pagham's area. With a dive that would have graced the Olympics swimming team, Kane could have no complaints as he was shown a yellow card.
Time ticked down with both sides missing chances before the end, and a long mid-week trip awaiting the Lions in their quest for cup glory.
Pagham; J.Binfield, J.Kilhams(G.Cody 75), D.Wollers, G.Bingham (J.Hawker 84), J.Booker, J.Horncastle, L.Rowlatt, A.Chick, C.Overton, S.Murfin, J.Van Driel(D.Crouch, S.Rafferty, T.Lewis)
Sittingbourne; D.Hakwes, D.Adekoya, C.Webber, J.Okimeji, B.Gorham, L.Ball, T.Guthrie, K.Rowland, M.Dawodu, G.Carvalho; M.Cornwell, L.Allen, D.Smith, G.Blake, H.Brooks