A game which had bookings, goals, disallowed goals, a denied penalty and much more was only missing a Pagham victory as East Grinstead’s Wasps stung them for the second time this season, winning 2-1 in the FA Vase.
Having already beaten Pagham 4-1 in the season opener, East Grinstead knocked the Lions out of the Vase thanks to Sam Schaaf’s double.
He first struck after six minutes, taking the ball in his stride and smashing it past James Binfield.
It didn’t take the Lions long to hit back as a stupendous free-kick from Joe Briggs foxed Christie in the Wasps’ goal after ten minutes.
The first booking came on the quarter-hour with Ruben French seeing yellow for the Lions.
James Temple could have opened his account for the season but he was denied by a contested offside flag.
Further injury problems came for the Lions on the half-hour as Russ Hardwell picked up an injury which meant he couldn’t complete the match.
Briggs and the industrious Scott Murfin both just missed the target before the break.
The second half was a minute old when a free-kick fell to Keiran Wilson, who created an opening for Schaaf to score his second.
The Lions were galvanised into action, Briggs again showing a turn of pace which almost bought an equaliser.
At the other end, George Hillier-Jones forced a fine save from Binfield, while Briggs picked up a booking.
Howard Neighbour came on to replace Hardwell and add firepower up front.
Neil Murfin was next in referee Burton’s book in a game which didn’t warrant so many cards.
Ben Burns replaced Schaaf and Binfield again rescued Pagham as the visitors looked to add to their tally.
The Lions thought they’d scored when Neighbour buried a chance, only for another contentious offside decision to rob him.
Ryan Cox picked up a booking and it looked like it wasn’t the Lions’ day.
This was reinforced when what looked a certain Pagham penalty was ignored by the officials.
Callum Cutler was Pagham’s last substitute before there was more controversy as an incredulous Pagham boss John Price had his name taken by the referee for something said to the linesman.
He escaped removal from the touchline, but coach Paul Atkinson was banished to the stands to wry smiles all round.
Two more Pagham bookings came on 90 minutes, Scott Murfin and Lee Bradshaw punished for mysterious misdemeanours.
Deep into time added on, East Grinstead sub White forced a double save from Binfield.
PAGHAM: Binfield, Buckland, Cox (Cutler 82), Pearce, N Murfin (Jefkins 71), Bradshaw, Briggs, French, Temple, Murfin, Hardwell (Neighbour 60).
Pagham 1 East Preston 2
Sussex League division one
The Lions suffered their second defeat in four days as a last-gasp East Preston goal won a game Pagham were unlucky to lose.
EP had strong representation in the Sussex side, but Dom Di Paola still put out a decent side.
Their best early chance came from the spot on four minutes but Joe Shelley’s attempt sailed over the bar.
Scott Murfin went close after 20 minutes but there was another EP penalty miss on the half-hour as Liam Baitup fluffed his lines, the ball rebounding off the post then ballooning over from the rebound.
James Temple could have scored on 41 minutes, but it was goalless at the break.
A half-time fracas resulted in Lions boss John Price being sent to the stands for the second half.
Jamie Farmer’s strike went well over the bar on 47 minutes for East Preston, but Pagham broke through in the 63rd minute, courtesy of a Scott Murfin penalty.
Baitup’s goal on 79 minutes levelled the scores. Taking advantage of a superb right-wing cross, his powerful header gave Binfield no chance.
With the game entering its final minute or so, Pagham’s hopes of a draw were dashed when an unmarked John Shelley struck the winner.
The Lions’ woe was completed deep into injury time with a second booking and a red card for Ruben French.
PAGHAM: Binfield, Williams, Buckland (Briggs 86), Pearce, N Murfin, Bradshaw, Cutler, French, Temple (Neighbour 86), S Murfin, Cox. Subs: Hardwell, Davidson, Jefkins