Pagham strikers can’t get it right against Rye

Pagham’s recent good run came to an end as Rye Utd took all three points at a sparsely-populated Nyetimber Lane in division one of the Sussex League.

Anyone who chose to stay at home and watch England missed a game which featured a single second-half goal and little else to commend it to the hardy few who did brave the cold.

Lions boss John Price sprang a surprise, with Scott Murfin relegated to the bench. Max Thoms took his place up front alongside leading scorer Howard Neighbour.

Early chances fell at either end, although it wasn’t until the quarter-hour that a meaningful goalscoring opening appeared.

A Rye corner saw the ball headed towards James Binfield. The Pagham keeper, fresh from his heroics for the victorious Sussex schools FA side, was far the busier as the visitors tried time and time again to break through.

Sam Cooper had a great opportunity on the half-hour, his shot rebounding to safety. Two minutes later Neighbour could have scored for the Lions, forcing a good save from Rye keeper Joe Winchester.

A looping shot from Cooper and a shot wide from Neil Murfin were the last two strikes in the first half.

Joe Briggs threatened for the Lions as he laid siege to Rye’s area. Some desparate Rye defending paid off as they pushed forward to score the only goal of the game just before the hour mark.

Olly Lockyer took advantage of a defensive gap to strike home past Binfield.

Further woe for the Lions came as Max Thoms saw yellow.

James Temple - fresh from his beach soccer role with England - was proving a handful for the Lions, having come on to replace Neil Murfin, but the home side couldn’t get the ball into the net. Shots went wide of the mark to frustrate the watching crowd.

On came Scott Murfin with 20 minutes left, and he made his mark almost immediately with a free-kick that went just over the bar.

Temple was also near to scoring and a Lions shot flew across the visitors’ goal.

Binfield pulled off a great save to deny Rye from a croner, while a header from Crabb was well held by the Lions keeper.

At the death Pagham thought they had a well-deserved equaliser, only for referee Mr Baker to disallow it for offside to end a disappointing night for Pagham.

PAGHAM: Binfield, Hawker, Buckland, Pearce, Booker, Bradshaw, Briggs, N Murfin (Temple), Neighbour, Thoms, Cox (S Murfin). Subs: Geoghegan, Williams, Hallett.

Pagham visit Lancing on Saturday and go to Selsey on Monday.

JON ROSE