East Preston v Pagham abandoned - should it even have started?

Pagham looked to be on course for their best result of the season, only for their visit to East Preston to be abandoned at the interval in soggy conditions.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 12:00 pm

The torrential rain was too much for an already-soaked pitch and the officials called a halt.

Pagham manager Kerry Hardwell felt the game should not have started. He said: "Boxing Day football is never ideal as it’s the most busy time of year but availability from my boys was superb.

"I thought common sense should have prevailed however. The referee had asked both teams to warm up outside the ground on the local park pitch as the pitch was boggy - for the life of me I can’t understand why the game was even started.

Goalmouth action before the game was abandoned / Picture: Roger Smith

"If he and his officials had doubts over it and with the weather forecast. On a positive note I was proud of all the boys with their attitudes and their performances in what was a good competitive SCFL game."

In a derby in which immense pride is at stake for both sides, with 75 per cent of the East Preston team ex-Pagham players and around half of the Pagham team ex-EP players, it was important to get the first goal. And it looked like it just had to be EP to go in front, attacking straight from the kick-off.

But a sudden breakaway by the Lions, with Jamie Carroll escaping down the right and knocking a nice cross to Lindon Miller who flicked it on for Lukas Franzen-Jones to smash low and hard into the bottom corner of the EP net to put Pagham 1-0 up.

The home side immediately hit back with a series of attacks and it paid off in the 16th minute when a poor foul inside the Pagham box gave ex-Lions ace Dan Simmonds the chance to score from the spot. He did exactly that, although recalled keeper Tom Crook almost managed to keep it out.

Pagham started to go forward with menace from then on and it was no real surprise that they retook the lead after 27 minutes. Conor Geoghegan managed to get his head to a cross from the right and Franzen-Jones stretched to get his foot to it and somehow flick it over the keeper and into the net.

It was all Pagham now and they almost increased their lead before half-time when first Lewis Jenkins had a shot cleared off the line and then Franzen-Jones had a 25-yard free-kick saved by the East Preston keeper.

And that was that. The players went in at half-time but didn’t return as the steady rain increased to almost monsoon proportions. An excellent all-round performance by the Lions in extremely difficult conditions and it was just a shame that it all meant for nothing.

Pagham: Bull, da Costa, Hallett, Jenkins, Geoghegan, Clark, Franzen Jones, Barnes, Miller (C Tilley), Carroll, Funnell. Subs not used: Lyne, Heryet, Hands, Searle.