Pagham v Peacehaven report and picture special - Match is muddy marvellous for the Lions
Pagham, playing on an old-fashioned mud-bath of a pitch, skidded, slipped and battled against a very strong Peacehaven team to grab another three vital points thanks to a twice-taken second-half penalty.
After several pitch inspections the game was given the go ahead to at least start, even as Storm Dennis poked its head over the fence.
Only the most optimistic of the huge crowd believed that the match would actually finish but although conditions deteriorated throughout the game at no time was there any lying water on the pitch and it was good old fashioned ‘fun in the mud’.
It was especially good for the hundreds of people that turned out to celebrate the life of Pagham’s most successful ever manager Dave Kew, who had recently passed away.
As expected, the first half did not display too much in the way of quality football, with the players struggling to adapt to the treacherous conditions, but it was highlighted by some excellent saves by both goalkeepers. One by Jordan Matthews was absolutely superb, and two from Alieu Secka in the Tye goal, one equal to Matthews, from Lukas Franzen-Jones were excellent too.
The second half started much livelier than the first, Matthews in action again with good saves in the 47th and 60th minutes to keep the scoresheet blank.
The defining moment of the game came in the 70th minute when the Lions were awarded a penalty, after a blatant foul on Joe Clarke, following excellent work by the hard-working Callum Chalmers. Although Secka saved the first attempt by Franzen-Jones it was ordered to be re-taken as Secka had come well off his line and Franzen-Jones didn’t waste the second chance, sending the keeper the wrong way.
The Lions then had to battle out the last 20 minutes as Peacehaven threw everything at them. They survived, with a magnificent effort from everybody and one goal-saving tackle by Conor Geoghegan that deserves to be etched into legend.
In the end only another great save by Secka kept the score at 1-0 as Jake Heryet sped down the right only to see his low hard shot pushed around the post. The final whistle brought massive celebrations on and around the pitch, with the three points lifting the Lions up to a giddy 15th in the table.
It might not have been pretty, but it was the only game played on grass in West Sussex, a testament to the club’s hard working groundstaff and sensible officials.
Pagham manager Kerry Hardwell was delighted with his team's second home win in a week: "Back to back home wins in the past week with two clean sheets to go with it is a great week's work for the club, especially stopping Peacehaven scoring for their first time this season," he said.
"It wasn’t a day for great football to be played - with the conditions it was a day to just battle as hard as we can and one thing we have with this squad is lads who want to work as hard as possible and they got their rewards with three massive points for the club.
"The back four were immense with Jordan Matthews making some good saves. That’s four wins from the past five games which has helped us massively - but we must keep building from now until the end of the season."
Pagham: Matthews, Jenkins, Searle, Clarke, Geoghegan, Jelley, Heryet, Barnes, Chalmers (C Tilley), Franzen-Jones (Slaughter), Carroll (Miller). Subs not used: Cox, Henton.