Lions held to draw by East Preston
By Tony Shea
Pagham kept the pressure on table topping Horsham YMCA with a hard fought point against East Preston.
With Three Bridges' game against Arundel postponed, & YMCA involved in Peter Bentley cup action, after the last-gasp drama on Saturday, this was as if Pagham took a well earned breather against a well-drilled EP side. That's not to say the Lions eased off, and had it not been for East Preston 'Keeper Ben Purkis, Pagham could have won this by a cricket score. The first quarter hour was almost all Pagham, Callum Overton having more than one chance to put the Lions ahead. East Preston's first goal opportunity came just after, with a free-kick seeing James Binfield racing from Pagham's goal to clear the lines. A controversial offside decision then robbed Dan Simmonds of a scoring chance of his own. East Preston's Luke Brodie & Cian Tilley were a handful for Pagham's defence, and only some wayward finishing kept the visitors from taking the lead. James Thurgar's shot just after the half hour went wide of the mark before good work by Joe Kilhams forced another opening for the home side. An Overton shot on 39 minutes was hacked off the line as Pagham kept pressing. With the minutes ticking down to half time, Dan Simmonds went one on one with Purkis only for the ball to be struck away to safety. Final action saw East Preston again having to clear their lines.
No changes at the break, and three chances in three minutes could have seen the Lions 3-0 up. Ryan Cox's chip onto the top netting was followed by an Overton toe-poke which went wide then Dan Simmonds skimmed the right hand upright with a shot. East Preston worked the ball to the other end of the pitch, only for a corner to result in the ball being frantically cleared from a crowded Pagham area. Just before the hour mark & Callum Overton raced toward goal, only to be hacked down by Josh Etherington. A booking for Etherington, and a clear sight of goal from a Pagham free-kick. Purkis punched the ball away, which was pinged back in, only for Lions' skipper Jamie Horncastle to shoot narrowly over. Cries for a penalty on 63 minutes as Overton appeared to be tripped as the ball came in for a corner. The referee saw otherwise, awarded a foul on Purkis and East Preston escaped again. James Binfield was again at his best as EP substitute Hayden Hunter arrowed goalwards. Jake Heryet struck a fine shot across the Lions goal as EP searched for a goal. Purkis again proved East Preston's saviour as he caught balls in from both Terrell Lewis and an Overton strike. The ball went over his bar after a goalmouth melee that should have seen the Lions score their first. They did have the ball in the net on 84 minutes, Simmonds shot going beyond Purkis. Again the offside flag ruled, and the game remained goal-less. Purkis went down injured with three minutes of normal time to play, but was able to continue. His punch out from an 88th minute corner proved pivotal as it was Pagham's last real chance in a game they could have sewn up long before then.
Pagham; J.Binfield, J.Kilhams, R.Cox, R.Davidson, J.Booker, J.Horncastle, J.Thurgar(K.Playle-Howard 87), A.Chick, D.Simmonds, T.Lewis (G.Bingham 74), C.Overton; S.Rafferty, L.Rowlatt
E.Preston; B.Purkis, N.Da Costa, D.Beaney, M.Searle, T.Lyne, J.Etherington, J.Heryet, J.Barnes, C.Tilley, D.Huet, L.Brodie; J.Parazo, J.Gilbertson, R.Quirke, H.Hunter, L.Donaldson
BY JON ROSE.