10 Man Lions Squash Horsham’s Hornets!
Fighting the bitter cold, a higher league team and some ‘questionable’ refereeing decisions’ to say the least, the Lions powered through to the Sussex Senior Cup semi-final with a display of guts, commitment, pride and no little skill.
Despite being down to 10 men when skipper Ryan Cox was sent off as early as the 20th minute, the home side scored two excellent and one spectacular goals and with keeper James Binfield putting in one of the great performances between the posts, Horsham were sent away shaking their heads as to why they had been so outplayed by a team from a lower league.
The fun started as early as the 8th minute when some stunning work down the left-hand side by Dan Simmonds and Andy Chick ended with Chick putting a brilliant cross into the box, where an onrushing Callum Overton was able to smash home for a 1-0 lead.
The first hugely controversial moment of the game came after 20 minutes, when Pagham skipper Ryan Cox was shown a straight red card for what looked like a 50/50 clash just outside the Pagham penalty area. Referee Mr Steven Hughes was undoubtedly helped in his decision by being surrounded by the entire eleven Horsham players, including goalie Josh Pelling who had to sprint at least 80 yards to give his opinion! It must be said though, replays show that skipper Cox's momentum in the challenge did cause him to inadvertently follow through on the Horsham player. The ensuing free-kick brought the first excellent save of the night by Pagham keeper James Binfield, low down to his left.
Thirteen minutes went by before Mr Hughes made another dubious decision as he awarded a free-kick just outside the box when it was obvious to everyone else in the ground that the Horsham forward had trodden on the ball and fallen over. The save this time from Binfield was an absolute cracker as he rose high to his left to push the ball over for a corner, which came to nothing.
For the last ten minutes of the half Horsham turned up the pressure but despite various corners could not manage another shot on target.
The second half started with a booking handed out to Shamus Wiggans on the halfway line, apparently for something he said. Soon after, in the 53rd minute, Pagham went further ahead through another top-class goal, once again scored by Callum Overton after a spectacular over-head kick by Dan Simmonds from a James Thurgar corner.
Five minutes later and it could have been three, when Hornet’s keeper Pelling was forced into an excellent save from Overton after a terrific through ball by Lloyd Rowlatt. It was Binfield’s turn soon after at the other end when he bravely dived to push away a one-on-one shot from Horsham.
And then came the most controversial moment of the night. For no reason anyone could see, referee Hughes awarded Horsham a penalty as Pagham cleared a corner. Not one of the Horsham players had appealed, nor had any of their fans behind the goal or anyone on their bench. But Mr Hughes had apparently seen something and a penalty it was. To prove that sometimes justice happens, James Binfield made a stunning save that really seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Hornets.
Two minutes later, in the 68th minute Dan Simmonds scored a contender for goal of the season, when he collected a long kick from Binfield, turned his man and crashed the ball home from the corner of the area. 3-0 game over.
Pagham played out the last few minutes making various substitutions to save tired legs before the whistle went and Pagham were in yet another semi-final!
Pagham’s Team was: James Binfield, Shamus Wiggans, Ryan Cox, Ryan Davidson, Daryl Wollers, George Bingham (Johan Van Driel), James Thurgar (Jack Parkinson), Andy Chick, Dan Simmonds, Lloyd Rowlatt (Jake Hawker) and Callum Overton. Sub not used, Terrell Lewis.
By Paul Davidson.