Pagham 4 US Portsmouth 2 - Wessex League premier
Pagham began their new era with a fine victory.
The Lions have moved sideways into premier division of the Wessex League this season – meaning they will be playing sides largley from Hampshire, instead of Sussex.
The club have embraced the somewhat unexpected move and with a new management team in place and plenty of new players in the dressing room they are relishing the challenge.
And life in the new league began perfectly for them when they beat US Portsmouth 4-2 under the Nyetimber Lane lights on Tuesday evening.
New boss Del Chester said: “We felt very confident going into the game after seeing a great response from the squad during pre-season to the demands we were putting on them in certain areas of the pitch.
"Like everything, it’s a process and will take time for it to gel especially with a new set of players, but we’re happy with the characters we’ve got in the dressing room and you can already see a good bond developing between them.
"Once we’d settled in the first five minutes or so, we felt like we had good control of the game, dominating possession for decent periods.
“We deserved our opening goal, coming from a set piece guided in by Callum Chase on the near post.
"Credit to US Portsmouth – they continued with their game plan and we struggled to pick up the pieces from the long balls out of defence.
"Their goals were of our own doing and for all our good football they hit a long ball through the middle, catching us asleep and suddenly we found ourselves 1-1.
"Soon after with us failing to clear our lines from a set piece, the game had turned and we were 2-1 down in a poor 10-minute period for us.
"Just before half-time Stan Bridgman caught the keeper out with a nicely worked free kick and deservedly we were back on level terms – 2-2 at the break.
"In the second half we showed our class and stepped up a gear playing some lovely football at times to open up their defence on numerous occasions.
"With a bit more clinical finishing we could have finished the game off sooner but we got the breakthrough with Harry Bridle (Bo), in his debut season at 16, finishing neatly into the bottom corner from another well-worked move through the midfield.
"From there the evening was capped off by Stan Bridgman’s second, and he was exceptional all game for us.
"There are a few things to work on for us now but on the whole it was very pleasing for our first outing in the Wessex League, with some very good performances from our players.”
Pagham now look forward to the visit of Erith Town on Saturday in the FA Cup. All support welcome.
Wick have received two major boosts ahead of the new Southern Combination Division One season.
The Dragons formally appointed former East Preston chairman Terry Doyle as the Football Chairman at Tuesday’s annual meeting while the Riverside Holiday Park in Bognor Regis have completed a deal to become first-team shirt sponsors.
Wick kick-off their campaign when they entertain Mile Oak at Crabtree Park on Friday at 7pm and club chairman David Phillips said: 'We are delighted to have a man with Terry's expertise and football knowledge at the club while the Riverside shirt deal is fantastic for all concerned.'
Doyle said: ‘I’m very excited to be here.
‘It’s very clear the club has a structure, ambitions and a plan and it helps that I have already worked with manager Lee Baldwin and a number of the players.’
Doyle said of his East Preston exit: ‘After all the years and efforts I put in, the way it was executed hurts.
‘But as often happens in life as one door closes another one opens and joining Wick keeps me involved in the game I love.
‘I have been managing clubs for the best part of 20 years and I’m also extremely happy to have been invited onto the management committee of the Southern Combination Football League.
‘It’s reassuring and pleasant that as my time at East Preston came to an end, there are so many people who believe I still have a lot to contribute to the game.’