Pagham almost fold against the Fold - now boss wants them to sharpen up for FA Cup tie

Pagham started and ended well against Alfold in Nyetimber Lane's first SCFL game of the season, but what went in between meant they ended up with a 2-2 draw instead of a home victory.

Pagham try to break down Alfold / Picture: Tommy McMillan
Pagham try to break down Alfold / Picture: Tommy McMillan

It was almost 15 minutes before ‘the Fold’ managed to get the ball in the Lions half. Unfortunately for Pagham, things went slowly downhill for them after that, at least until a fiery end to the game.

For all their dominance, the home side could not get the ball into Alford’s net. Jared Rance bounced a ball off the top of the crossbar and Callum Chalmers' excellent turn and shot from the edge of the area was well saved - but other than that and another Chalmers near miss, Pagham failed to make their efforts pay-off.

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It was Alford who went in front in the 28th minute through Simon Lemon from the spot. The pressure changed ends and the Fold pushed the Lions back into some hard defending. Pagham were still dangerous on the break and smashed home the equaliser in the 44th minute. Joe Clarke applying the finishing touch from excellent work by Jack Barnes.

The second half started with Alfold putting wave after wave of pressure on the Lions defence. Pagham keeper Maciek Kason made three fabulous saves to keep the scores level, two low down and one flip over the bar. Pagham’s only interruption to the flow was a cheeky 40-yard lob by Sam Connolly that the Alfold keeper just managed to grab right on the line.

The game really exploded in the 89th minute when Alfold were awarded a second penalty that resulted in a 2-1 lead after Devon Fender scored and keeper Kason was sent off.

The away side’s boisterous celebrations were cut short NINE minutes into added time when the Lions were also given a penalty when Rance was brought down from behind in the penalty area. It was Rance who got up to smash the ball home and tie the game, sparking off similar celebratory scenes but this time at the other end of the pitch.

Lions manager Kerry Hardwell said: "After Saturday’s win we asked the boys to build momentum in our first home SCFL game of the season. We started the better side and in all honesty should of been two up within the first 20 minutes, however we lacked the conviction we had on Saturday.

"Alfold's first penalty was a harsh one and personally I thought the referee got the decision wrong - we then had to ride the storm for five minutes until we got the deserved equaliser from Joe Clarke.

"Our second half performance wasn’t what we expect from the boys and for whatever reason we really didn’t get going the whole 45, it was only for Maceij Kason pulling off some great saves that kept us level. The mistake at the end from Kason which resulted in Alfold's second penalty of the night meant it seemed like it was going to be one of those nights.

"Hwever Jared Rance was hauled down right at the end and tucked home the penalty to get us a point. We must improve our performance levels as we face a real tough test against AFC stoneham in the FA Cup on Saturday."

Pagham: Maciek Kason, Tom Atkinson, Ryan Hallett (Jake Heryet), Joe Clarke, Dylan Jelley, Jack Williamson, Callum Chalmers (Toby Funnel), Jack Barnes, David Crouch (Grant Radmore), Sam Connolly, Jared Rance. Subs not used: Ash Hawkes, George Bingham.