Once again, the Pagham groundsmen performed miracles to get this game on and in the end, everyone at the club was very pleased that they did, as the Lions took over top spot in the table.
The game had already been switched to Nyetimber Lane as the Uckers had even worse problems at their own ground, and it looked an excellent decision on their behalf as they held a two-goal lead inside the last ten minutes.
Right from the start an upset looked on the cards as Uckfield attacked Pagham and they should have scored in the very first minute after a long free-kick was parried by Lions keeper James Binfield only as far as Uckfield defender Sam Cooper, who skied his shot over the bar.
But then, just five minutes later, they did take the lead when Ryan Cox was adjudged to have brought down Bailo Camara in the box and Trevor McCreadie stroked the ball home from the spot.
Pagham just couldn’t get going in this first half but could have levelled when a controversial decision went against them on the half-hour mark. James Thurgar ran at the Uckfield defence and was clearly brought down from behind on the very edge of the box.
The referee’s assistant obviously thought so as he waved his flag vigorously for a free-kick/penalty, only to be ignored by the referee who gave nothing. To compound the Lions' misery, Callum Overton had to be substituted soon after, through injury, by Terrell Lewis. HT 1-0 Uckfield.
The second half started with a bang for Pagham as Dan Simmonds scored almost straight from the kick-off, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the box to make it 1-1.
Any thoughts the Lions had of strolling on to victory were shattered when first, Matt McLean scored to make it 2-1 to the Uckers from a tight angle, before Ant Storey made it 3-1 from a wickedly-deflected free-kick from 25 yards out after 61 minutes. At this point, Uckfield were well worth their lead, but the game then started to swing Pagham’s way at last.
Jamie Horncastle had a header disallowed for offside in the 63rd minute, then Lewis shot wide after 68. Four minutes later and Simmonds was brought down in the box, this time seen by the referee, and he sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot to make it 3-2.
The tempo now increased with chances falling at both ends before Ryan Davidson smashed home a spectacular volley from 35 yards as the game moved into added-on time, to make it 3-3.
Uckfield’s time-wasting tactics now counted against them as the Lions threw everything forward to try to get the winner. Uckfield’s Camara was sent off in the 92nd minute for something he said and then team-mate Richie Welch soon followed him for a bad foul on Pagham’s Cox.
And still they played on. After Thurgar had wasted a good chance at one end for Pagham, Uckfield appeared to have won the game when they got the ball into the Pagham net in the 101st minute, only for the assistant referee to signal offside.
Even then, the referee played on and James Thurgar won it for Pagham in the 12th minute of added-on time following good work from sub Kieron Playe-Howard to the jubilation of the entire team, bench and fans.
There was just enough time for non-playing Uckers sub Ryan Welch to become his side’s third sending-off for swearing at the assistant referee that had disallowed their goal, and as soon as they kicked off the whistle went for full-time. What a remarkable ending to a well fought, end to end game. And Pagham were top of the league.
Pagham: Binfield, Kilhams (Playe-Howard), Cox, Davidson, Wollers, Horncastle (Jefkins), Thurgar, Chick, Simmonds, Rowlatt, Overton (Lewis). Subs not used: Bingham, Rafferty.