Pagham leave it late to defeat Dockers.
Third in the league, league leading scorers, unbeaten in the league in 2018 - what could possibly go wrong? In the end nothing, but an almighty kicking from the Dockers in the first half could have seen the Lions lose their roar.
A Dan Simmonds second half hat-trick did for Newhaven, but with the visitors 2-0 up at the break things could have been oh-so different come the final whistle. Pagham started the game well enough, Callum Overton hitting the side netting on 3 minutes, but otherwise it was all Newhaven, taking the game away from the Lions. The opening goal came on 8 minutes as a left sided cross was turned beyond Binfield by Ebou Jallow. A good natured, if partisan Newhaven contingent cajoled their side onward and upward, deciding that the officials were not all they could have been, and showing a flexible interpretation of the handball law. Ian Robinson was having a massive game at the back for Newhaven, time and time again clearing the lines, but at the other end Pagham's defence was far the busier. The youthfull Dockers' side was far from the same one comprehensively beaten 5-2 earlier in the season. It wasn't until the 38th minute that Newhaven got their second though, Kyle Woolven weaving through to strike a low shot past Binfield. The Lions had had chances of their own, Simmonds, Thurgar and Overton all having sight of goal. None of these counted though, as a subdued Pagham side went in at half time 2-0 down.
The break saw Terrell Lewis given a chance, replacing an out of sorts George Bingham. Pagham's luck was typified as Ryan Cox gained a booking for a fairly robust but unintentional foul on Seb Saunders. 53 minutes in and another change for the Lions, Ryan Davidson replacing Daryl Wollers. A brace of corners for Newhaven had Lions' keeper James Binfield at his best clearing the threats. Controversy on the hour, and indignant shouts from Newhaven's fans as Andy Chick may have controlled the ball with his lower arm. Despite the protests, the referee was having none of it, and waved play on. Another booking for Pagham, as Joe Booker saw yellow for a handball that was given Newhaven's way. Dan Simmonds was next to catch the referee's attention, his disputing of decisions finally being punished with his second yellow card in two games. No matter what the Lions did, they couldn't match Newhaven's pace or directness of passing and it was only a surprise the visitors hadn't scored again before Pagham got their first. Dan Simmonds took the latest of many free-kicks given during the game, and at last this one evaded Jake Buss in Newhaven's goal. With James Thurgar also having been booked, Pagham were walking a disciplinary tight rope but a flurry of substitutions for Newhaven could have disturbed their balance as the Lions got a second on 87 minutes. A sublime run and shot from range gave Buss no chance and put the Lions on equal terms. With some of the Pagham fans looking happy with a point in a game they were second best in, Dan Simmonds cropped up again just at the right time. Into time added on, another free-kick, and a shot directed beyond the immobile Buss, and the Pagham bench went wild. After the referee managed to restore order, the minutes ticked down to a victory that the Lions looked at times unlikely to have achieved.
Pagham; J.Binfield, S.Wiggans, R.Cox, J.Booker, D.Wollers (R.Davidson 53) G.Bingham (T.Lewis 45), J.Thurgar, A.Chick, D.Simmonds, L.Rowlatt, C.Overton; T.Jefkins, J.Ashmore, S.Rafferty
Newhaven; J.Buss, H.Docherty, I.Robinson, G.MCCarthy, M.Gunn, R.Knight, S.Saunders, E.Jallow, L.Robinson, J.Rhodes, K.Woolven, R.Malila, T.Cooklin, R.Keith, T.Jarvis, O.Davies