The Lions roared into the Sussex League 2012-13 season with two wins that took them into the early-season top three in division one. They beat Dorking 3-1 and Worthing United 4-3 to move into third place.
With eve-of-season signings of former Selsey pair Max Thoms and Luke Kilner on show, John Price was without James Temple, Scott Murfin and the suspended Joe Booker for the opener against Dorking.
Four minutes in, a square ball from Ryan Cox was scrambled away by Wanderers’ defence before a quick break ended in a fine piece of goalkeeping by new Lions stopper Andy Smallpeice.
The opener came from Thoms on ten minutes – no more than the home side deserved as they weathered some physical play.
Dorking dangerman Chris Williams almost single-handedly took on Pagham’s defence. More than once he forced Smallpeice into good saves and his efforts were rewarded on 38 minutes as his run and shot eluded the Lions’ back four to leave it all-square at the break.
After the break, Williams’ raids were still causing the Lions problems.
There was a booking for Dorking’s Craig Duffell on 48 minutes for an unsavoury challenge on Neil Murfin.
Dorking kept moving forward while, at the other end, Paul Jones almost scored his first for the season with a header but it went over.
Smallpeice was forced to play rush goalie on the hour as Williams was again in on goal.
Howard Neighbour latched on to the ball for Pagham, his shot going narrowly over. Joe Briggs came on for the Lions with Callum Cutler making way and a minute later, he was scythed down by Shaun Duffell, who was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Dorking kept going, although Jones’ mazy run on 68 minutes could have resulted in a Lions second goal.
Ex-Rocks player Kilner replaced the hard-working Chris Eyres. Two bookings came in three minutes as Wanderers’ Daryl Jeeves and Neighbour saw yellow.
Joe Briggs rounded Williams to score the Lions’ second on 76 minutes. Wanderers skipper Craig Vernon was booked for pushing Jones.
Duncan Frazer shot past the upright while Jones headed away one dangerous ball.
Ryan Cox miscued a shot with a minute to go before Thoms wrapped things up with a fine goal.
Pagham boss John Price said: “Our first-half performance didn’t match that of the second, and it was only after the break we began to impose ourselves.”
PAGHAM: Smallpeice, Eyres (Kilner 69), Ford, Pearce, Jones, Hawker, Cutler (Briggs 61), N Murfin, Thoms, Neighbour, Cox. Subs: Champion, Binfield, Anderton.
Pagham came away with three points against Worthing United, but knew the old maxim about a good team playing badly and still winning applied.
In the second minute, Thoms got his third in two games, before a penalty by Neighbour made it two.
United hit back through Chris Welbelove but the two-goal lead was restored just after the half hour, Neighbour concverting a Daren Pearce corner.
Welbelove scored within six minutes of the restart and scored again with 64 minutes gone.
There was much relief on the Pagham terraces as Neighbour got his hat-trick on 76 minutes to give the Lions the slenderest of leads.