Pagham can’t give Bennett a winning start

Mark Bennett and Richie Hellen make their bow at Pagham / Picture by Roger Smith

Mark Bennett and Richie Hellen make their bow at Pagham / Picture by Roger Smith

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Mark Bennett’s first game in charge at Pagham started well, with the Lions racing to a 2-0 half-time lead at home to Worthing United in the Southern Combination premier.

At the final whistle, though, it was a different story as Pagham reverted to the form that has blighted their season in recent weeks.

Early on Terrell Lewis proved a handful on the right. Andy Brown saw a chance hacked away by David Marsh before Ryan Cox smacked the ball against the bar.

The Lions went ahead when a short run from Lloyd Rowlatt created space in the area and he struck home past Callum Hampson in the United goal.

In the Observer - out on Thursday - all the local football, including the first interview with Pagham’s new boss

Pagham were carving big holes in Worthing’s defence and it was no surprise when it was 2-0 on the half-hour.

It could have been 3-1 on 70 minutes as Scott Murfin latched on to a loose ball only for Hampson to pull off a great block.

Scott Murfin’s delightful chip into the area saw Dan Swain’s shot rocket in.

On 35 minutes Worthing’s Sam Blundell fell in a heap in the area. The ref waved away the protests for a spot-kick.

Pat Rose had a shot blocked for United, while Scott Murfin hit the side netting and Rowlatt almost scored a third for Pagham, hitting the ball just over.

After the break, Paul Elliott struck just over the angle of post and bar, while Pat Rose saw a shot whistle wide of the post.

Rob Brown’s looping header on 55 minutes saw Hampson easily catch the ball.

Just before the hour, Worthing’s first goal came. A free-kick seemingly dealt with by the Lions was pinged back in, a striker was pushed over and the official pointed to the spot. Elliott gave James Binfield little chance in Pagham’s goal.

This seemed to galvanise the Lions, with Cox shooting just over and Rob Brown hitting the woodwork.

It could have been 3-1 on 70 minutes as Scott Murfin latched on to a loose ball only for Hampson to pull off a great block.

The Lions were relying on free-kicks but Hampson was in imperious form to deny them. At the other end, the visitors sniffed at least a point and on 80 minutes the equaliser came.

A corner was not dealt with by the Pagham back four and Rose nipped in to head home at the near post.

A superb stop from Hampson to deny Rowlatt four minutes later summed up Pagham’s afternoon.

With the Lions hanging on, a killer blow came with a minute of normal time to go. United’s Owen Callaghan was brought down in the area by Ryan Davidson and the second penalty of the game gave Elliott his second and the winner.

David Crouch went close from a free-kick, but Bennett has much to do to lift the Lions in the coming weeks.

PAGHAM: Binfield, A Brown, Wollers, Davidson (Crouch 90), Boniface, Swain, Lewis (Grommet 60), Rowlatt, R Brown, S Murfin, Cox (N Murfin). Subs: Van Driel, Martin.

JON ROSE

* Pagham’s visit to Uckfield Town on Tuesday night was rained off. They visit Loxwood on Saturday.

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