Pagham’s new look Young Lions were well beaten in their season-opening game at AFC Uckfield, but it wasn’t for the want of trying.
Never was a team better named than the Oaks, with some huge players at the back and in midfield dwarfing the Pagham boys and that, added to one of the most exasperating refereeing displays I have ever seen, was enough to conspire towards the defeat.
The Oaks almost went in front as early as the seventh minute as a header rattled back off the bar only for Lions keeper Lewis Boughton to pull off a stunning save from the rebound.
Boughton went on to have a wonderful game between the sticks and it was just as well he did as the Oaks laid siege on the Pagham defence for most of the game. The Lions occasionally burst out of defence and looked dangerous whenever they did.
George Cody screwed a shot narrowly wide from one such and a few minutes later, his goal bound shot hit Scott Rafferty on the back of the head and flew wide.
The dam broke in the 21st minute and Uckfield took the lead somewhat fortuitously when a through ball got a Lions defender in a tangle and Liam Baitup took advantage to score off of the far post. Boughton got more action as Pagham managed to hold on until half-time, with the sterling work of Tom Lyne and Conor Geoghegan in front of him more than helping out.
Still under the cosh at the start of the second half, Pagham made a couple of changes midway through, with Jake Heryet and Archie Thorpe replacing George Britton and Scott Rafferty. It didn’t really alter the sway of the game though, Uckfield hitting the post again soon after.
Cian Tilley went into the book with nearly 20 minutes left in a quite ridiculous incident and was soon replaced by Ryan Hallett. As Tilley had been Pagham’s only striker all afternoon, the chances of pulling the scores level were reduced even further and some more ludicrous decisions from the officials were enough to stall any efforts before they really got going.
Uckfield made the game safe a full six minutes into injury time when, with the Lions pushing forward, a cross into the area was tapped home by sub Matt Black.
It was bad luck all round on the Lions, but to put the game into perspective, Uckfield hit the wood work three times and had over two dozen corners, where as Pagham had no corners and the Oaks keeper Phil Hawkins did not have a proper save to make all afternoon!
Pagham: Boughton, da Costa, Beaney, Albar, Lyne, Geoghegan, Britton (Thorpe), Barnes, C Tilley (Hallett), Rafferty (Heryet). Subs: S Tilley, Slaughter.