Pagham focus on top-three finish after title hopes slip away

PAGHAM can’t win the Sussex League title - but a win at Hailsham kept up their hopes of finishing second three days after the blow of a defeat at Peacehaven.

The likelihood is they’ll be overtaken in the runners-up spot as rivals have more games to play but Lions boss John Price is still delighted with the season as a whole.

And the club will celebrate a fine campaign by offering fans free entry to their final home game, against Hassocks on Saturday, May 4.

The key battle in the title race was their trip to Peacehaven on Saturday, when they lost to a scrappy goal by Ash Jones midway through the second half.

They got back to winning ways thanks to Scott Murfin’s double at Hailsham on Tuesday.

Price said: “Peacehaven and us cancelled each other out and it had 0-0 written all over it - until they scored a really messy goal. Their manager said the two games against us had been their toughest of the season, which was nice to hear.

“It makes a top-two finish difficult although third place would be nice and anything in the top five goes down as a great season.

“We didn’t apply for promotion to the Ryman League this season as we need to make sure the club and ground are ready but we’ve got work going on in the summer and will give next season a good shot.

“The structure of the club with the reserve and youth teams is getting stronger all the time and, fingers crossed, we can keep most of our squad together for next term.”

Pagham go to Crowborough this Saturday then host Hassocks a week later (May 4) when they hope the offer of free admission will see a big crowd turn up at Nyetimber Lane.

“It’s a reward for our loyal fans and a chance for anyone else - adults, their kids, their dogs, local businesses - to come and see what we’re about.”

Meanwhile the club were presented with a defibrillator at Peacehaven following fundraising by the Connor Saunders Foundation. Connor played for Peacehaven and his friends and family have been involved in projects to keep his memory alive in local football circles.

The equipment presented to Pagham will be used by the football club, cricket club and local playgroup and Price said: “It was a really nice touch. We have made a donation to the foundation.”

STEVE BONE