Pagham beat Newhaven 3-2 in the SCFL Premier division thanks to a late Dan Simmonds hat-trick. But with the visitors 2-0 up at the break things could have been so different come the final whistle.
The Lions started well enough, Callum Overton hitting the side netting on three minutes, but otherwise Newhaven were taking the game away from the Lions.
The opening goal came on eight minutes as a left-sided cross was turned beyond James Binfield by Ebou Jallow.
The Newhaven fans urged their side forward, deciding the officials were not all they could have been.
Ian Robinson was having a massive game at the back for Newhaven, time and time again clearing their lines, but at the other end Pagham’s defence was far busier.
The youthful Dockers’ side was far from the same one comprehensively beaten 5-2 earlier in the season.
In the 38th minute Newhaven got their second, Kyle Woolven weaving through to strike a low shot past Binfield.
The Lions had had chances of their own, Simmonds, James Thurgar and Overton all having sight of goal. But it was a subdued Pagham side who went in at half-time 2-0 down.
The second half saw Terrell Lewis given a chance, replacing an out-of-sorts George Bingham. Pagham’s Ryan Cox gained a booking for a fairly robust but unintentional foul on Seb Saunders.
On 53 minutes Ryan Davidson replaced Daryl Wollers. A couple of corners for Newhaven had Lions keeper Binfield at his best, clearing the threats.
There was controversy on the hour as Newhaven’s fans felt Andy Chick had controlled the ball with his lower arm. The referee was having none of it, and waved play on.
For Pagham, Joe Booker saw yellow for a handball. Simmonds was next to catch the referee’s attention, his disputing of decisions punished with his second yellow in two games.
The Lions couldn’t match Newhaven’s pace or direct passing and it was a surprise the visitors hadn’t scored again before Pagham got their first, which came when Simmonds’ free-kick evaded Jake Buss in Newhaven’s goal.
With Thurgar also booked, Pagham were walking a disciplinary tightrope but after a flurry of substitutions for Newhaven the Lions got a second on 87 minutes.
A sublime run and shot from long range by Simmonds gave Buss no chance and put the Lions on equal terms. With some of the Pagham fans looking happy with a point, Simmonds popped up again just at the right time.
Into time added on, another free-kick by the top scorer, directed beyond the immobile Buss, went in and the Pagham bench went wild.
After the referee managed to restore order, the minutes ticked down to a victory that the Lions had looked unlikely to achieve.
Pagham: Binfield, Wiggans, Cox, Booker, Wollers (Davidson 53) Bingham (Lewis 45), Thurgar, Chick, Simmonds, Rowlatt, Overton. Subs: Jefkins, Ashmore, Rafferty.