Pagham’s under-21s had beaten their Crawley Down Gatwick counterparts on their own patch a few days earlier, but the first team were crushed by the Anvils, losing 2-0 and having a man sent off.
A few days earlier, Lions’ boss Mark Bennett announced he would leave Nyetimber Lane at the end of the season, and a loss wasn’t the result he would have wanted.
The visitors had the first meaningful chance, Lee Thomas’ ball in being scrambled away. Ollie Leslie followed up for the Anvils, but James Binfield kept things even.
Pagham livened up a bit, Scott Murfin and Callum Overton testing Andy Greaves in the visitors’ goal. Neil Murfin’s header on 20 minutes denied the Anvils a goal from a free-kick, while brother Scott tried his luck at the other end.
As the half-hour mark approached, Ryan Cox’s run and shot troubled Greaves, who was injured in the process of pushing the ball out for a corner. From the re-start, the ball was hustled into Pagham’s area, only for Sam Cane’s shot to be scrambled away.
A tremendous free-kick on 40 minutes by Dan Sullivan saw Binfield save. This triggered some Pagham pressure before the break, George Bingham putting Overton through, only for Greaves to pull off a great save.
Two minutes into the second half, the visitors scored their first. A defensive error by Pagham allowed Michael Belli through, giving Binfield no chance.
Cane shot well over from range, while Binfield was forced to hack the ball away in a goalmouth scramble.
A booking for Liam Humphreys on his first start after injury would prove pivotal.
Just before the hour mark a shot on the turn from Leslie beat Binfield to double the lead. A minute later, Humphreys collected his second booking and was sent off.
Another Pagham booking followed shortly afterward as Neil Murfin saw yellow. The visitors’ defensive frailties allowed the Lions more than one chance.
George Cody’s penetrative runs kept the impetus when Pagham did attack, but the Anvils still looked the most likely to score.
A great shot from Belli was well dealt with by Binfield, and on 75 minutes, the linesman flagging for offside kept the visitors from a third.
Cody’s mazy run towards goal ended when the ball ran ahead of him. With ten minutes to go, a shot from Anvils’ sub Gianfranco Mici forced the save of the game from Binfield who tipped the ball over the bar.
Cane whipped a shot wide of the post as Crawley Down still looked for number three. The last chance fell to Pagham sub Jack Parkinson, who was unlucky to be adjudged offside.
Pagham go to Broadbridge Heath on Saturday and host Chichester City on Monday.
Pagham: Binfield, N Murfin, Cox, Swain, Wollers, Humphreys, Rowlatt (Cody 63), Bingham, Overton, S Murfin (Crouch 77), Ryan (Parkinson 82). Subs not used: Irish, Selby.
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