Pagham came back from a goal down to wbeat Hailsham 3-1 on a day when three points were vital to keep up with the top two in division one of the Sussex League.
After an impeccable minute’s applause for stalwart Pagham fan Neil Morgan, who had passed away during the week, the Lions set about providing a fitting tribute to him on the pitch.
Adam Hunt returned to the starting line-up, with Tom Broadbent absent. Referee Dan Austin set out his stall early, booking Scott Murfin for diving in the first minute.
Danny Leach had a fine scoring chance for the visitors, being allowed time and space to shoot at goal. Hailsham were having most of the early play, although Murfin gave Tom Betts work to do with a shot the Hailsham keeper pushed out for a corner.
Sam Divall was the next in the book after tangling with Hunt. Both Andy Brown and Rob Brown tested Betts, but it was Hailsham who opened the scoring. A free-kick was dispatched by Leach round the Lions wall and beyond a diving James Binfield to put the visitors 1-0 up.
A rather low-key first half petered out, with Hailsham prevented from increasing their lead by Binfield’s imperious form.
It didn’t take the Lions long to get back into the game after the break. A pinpoint through-ball from Rob Wimble found Murfin, who made no mistake as he ran and shot past Betts.
This raised the Lions’ spirits and they entered a period of domination, only spoiling things with yet another booking, this time for Ryan Morey.
Johan Van Driel, on for Ruben French, shot over the bar after great approach work from Wimble, while Hunt had a nervy moment when the referee called him over. With just a talking-to, Hunt was able to continue.
Two goals came in quick succession just after the hour for Pagham. Wimble struck from a Rob Brown ball in to give the hosts the lead, then Dan Martin’s streaky shot beat Betts to make it 3-1.
A flurry of substitutions saw both managers look to shake things up.
Pagham should have increased their lead on 73 minutes as Van Driel was sent sprawling in the area. Up stepped Murfin to take the spot-kick but Betts was equal to the task and saved.
Alex Kew and Murfin could have put Pagham out of sight, but with shots raining in on Betts’ goal, there was no further addition to the score.
PAGHAM: Binfield, Hunt, French (Van Driel), Bradshaw, Davidson, R Brown (O’Connor 69), A Brown, Martin, Wimble, S Murfin, Morey (Kew 69). Sub not used: Richer.