Free football is a winner - and Pagham are winners too

Pagham's squad can look back on an excellent season  Picture by Chris Hatton
Pagham's squad can look back on an excellent season Picture by Chris Hatton

A final-day feast of free football was witnessed at Nyetimber Lane as Pagham’s second-half display destroyed a resolute Hassocks side.

With the club’s initiative of free entry to the game as a thank-you to the fans, a sizeable crowd watched John Price’s side compete for the chance of finishing third.

The visitors had done the double over the Lions last season, but the Lions took all six points this time.

Before kick-off, Daren Pearce picked up the supporters’ player of the year award after another consistent season from the ever-green campaigner.

The game started with a Lee Bradshaw clearance stopping Nathan Miles from opening the scoring within the first minute.

For the Lions, Howard Neighbour struck a looping shot just over the bar. Ryan Cox and Joe Briggs could each have scored before a couple of Hassocks free-kicks allowed them sight of goal.

A lacklustre first half was enlivend with a Pearce run and shot just after the half-hour, Simon Lehkyj in Hassocks’ goal saving well.

But Pearce made no mistake with two minutes of the half left, a goal capping a fine performance from the Lions skipper.

The second half began with Hassocks turning the screw but even with the prolific Phil Gault in their ranks, they couldn’t get a goal.

Pagham’s second came on 51 minutes, Scott Murfin striking home after great approach work from Joe Briggs and Ryan Cox.

Jake Hawker proved useful at both ends - clearing for the Lions then going on a blistering run which should have ended in another goal for Pagham.

On the hour mark, Neighbour and Hassocks’ Keiron O’Callaghan clashed heads. Treatment was needed by both players.

Lehkyj had to be at his best as he pushed a Briggs shot just past his upright.

Scott Murfin was clean through on 74 minutes, but again Lehkyj came to the rescue for the Robins.

Lions keeper James Binfield was called into action on 75 minutes as sub Stuart Brown forced a low save from Binfield.

It was not long before the Lions scored again - from another unlikely source. Up popped Lee Bradshaw to direct the ball home with one of his spectacular yet rare goals.

A double substitution seemed to distract the Lions and on 83 minutes, Nathan miles scored a consolation for the visitors.

Their afternoon took a downturn as Dan Smith was shown a straight red card.

A cut head to Daren Pearce sullied what had been a competitive yet friendly match before another Neighbour goal finished off a convincing win and a season to be proud about.

PAGHAM: Binfield, Hawker (Nunn 83), Buckland, Pearce, Booker, Bradshaw, Briggs (Temple 83), Williams, Neighbour, S Murfin, Cox. Subs: Temple, Thoms, Stevens, Hallett