Hellen hails his FA Cup heroes

Pagham's 2017-18 line-up
Pagham's 2017-18 line-up

Pagham joint boss Richie Hellen hailed his FA Cup heroes after they pulled off a giantklling act at the home of their Isthmian League opposition.

The Lions were unfortunate not to see off Bostik South side Sittingbourne in the first game at Nyetimber Lane on Saturday, when they needed Scott Murfin’s penalty to cancel out the Kent side’s early strike.

Some would have thought that was Pagham’s chances of glory gone – but they produced a gritty display to win Tuesday night’s replay 1-0 against the team who are third in the league above them.

The Lions can now look forward to visiting another Bostik South side, Carshalton Athletic, in the first qualifying round of the Cup on Saturday, September 2.

Hellen, who manages the team alongside Tom Simmonds, said: “I felt we deserved to win Saturday’s game but just couldn’t quite find the winner. We dominated that game.

“The replay was different – more backs-to-the-wall as they put four up front against our back four – but our defence were immense and I thought we earned the victory through hard work.”

After Saturday, we’d gone into the replay feeling we had nothing to fear.

Richie Hellen

Sub Terrell Lewis clinched the scalp when he converted a Callum Overton cross eight minutes before extra-time would have been needed– justice for a ‘goal’ the same player should have had 13 minutes earlier.

Hellen explained: “Terrell hit one from about 25 yards that went in and came back out of a kind of stanchion Sittingbourne had in the base of their goal. Everyone felt it had gone in but the referee didn’t see it and the linesman said he thought it had hit the outside of the post.

“Happily that didn’t matter after Terrell scored one that did count.

“After Saturday, we’d gone into the replay feeling we had nothing to fear. You don’t often know too much about these Isthmian League sides until you play them. But beating Sittingbourne can give us confidence going into the Carshalton game.”

The Cup triumph continues a fine start to the season for Hellen and Simmonds’ troops.

After beating Arundel in the extra preliminary round, they stormed to joint top spot in the Southern Combination premier by a 4-0 home win against Horsham YMCA in their opening league game.

But Hellen is making no big promises about their aims for the season, even if many are tipping them to be challenging at the top end of the division throughout.

He said: “Last year, with Mark Bennett here, expectations were high and we did have a good season. We did well in the league and won the Peter Bentley Cup.

“This year I think expectations are lower. We have our objectives but I’m not going to go shouting about what we may or may not do.

“We’ve brought in Joe Booker and Jamie Horncastle and have some good players from our under-21s coming through.”

STEVE BONE

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