Peacehaven picked up another vital three points with a 1-0 win against a good Pagham team on Saturday.
Having returned to the top of the county league with a 6-2 battering of Hailsham Town on Thursday night, Shaun Saunders’ men then took on the team they replaced at the summit, Pagham, in a contest between first and second in division one.
And the Tye continued to press for the league title with a 1-0 victory over the Lions.
The only goal of the game came midway through the second half from Ashley Jones – an inswinging corner which was flicked on into the net by the Peacehaven man.
The Magpies thought they had take the lead midway through the first half of a hard-fought contest, when Rob O’Toole appeared to have beaten the keeper with a header. However, with players heading back to the halfway line for what they thought would be a restart from Pagham, the referee surprised everyone by blowing up for a foul on the Pagham keeper.
But Peacehaven were not to be denied and dominated most of the play while thwarting the few Pagham attacks. For their own part Pagham put up a strong defensive line which restricted the number of chances Peacehaven had on goal. But one goal was enough. It was more of a goal-fest on Thursday, with Peacehaven hitting the 100-goal mark in the 6-2 defeat of Hailsham at the Beaconsfield.
The win avenged the 1-0 defeat Peaceheaven suffered at home to the Stringers in February and saw The Tye leapfrog Pagham back to the top of the table.
A fourth minute goal via an Ashley Jones header got Peacehaven off to a flying start. The visitors dominated the half and allowed their hosts few attacks, but the score remained 1-0 at half time.
However, the goals flowed after the break. Hailsham struck first with a Shane Saunders equaliser five minutes into the half – before six goals in 15 minutes from the 69 minute mark took the game firmly away from the hosts. Strikes from Wes Tate, Tom Burton, a Carl Dunk penalty that also saw a Hailsham man sent off, and two strikes from Ashley Rees ensured Peacehaven’s already healthy goal difference would be improved yet further.
Peacehaven’s last goal – Rees’s second on 82 minutes – was also the team’s 100th in the league this season. It is the first time a team has score 100 goals in County League Division 1 since Burgess Hill in 2001/02.
Two minutes before Rees’s historic strike, Hailsham had claimed a consolation second goal, scored by Steve Dallaway.
And with East Preston drawing 0-0 away at Rye, the result put the title closer in Peacehaven’s sights – as did Saturday’s 1-0 win over Pagham.
Redhill moved up to second with a 2-0 home win over Crowborough, while Rye United and East Preston beat Chichester City and Sidley United 5-0 and 3-0 at home respectively.
But the league is in Peacehaven’s own hands: the fixture schedule is challenging as all but one of their six remaining fixtures are away. But if they can win them all their games, the league title is theirs.
Their remaining fixtures are:
Tuesday April 23 v Worthing United (away);
Thursday April 25 v Arundel (away);
Saturday April 27 v St Francis Rangers (away);
Tuesday April 30 v Shoreham (home);
Saturday May 4 v Horsham YMCA (away);
and Monday May 6 v Chichester City (away).
Ahead of yesterday’s win over Pagham, the Peacehaven website speculated: “If we can win our next four games games there is a possibility, if other results go our way, that we could win the title on the 30th (Peacehaven’s last home game of the season).
“Come along and support the hard work all the boys have put in as the club looks to reach its highest level on the football pyramid in its 90 year history...”
League table as of Saturday April 20 (key: position, team, games played, goal difference, points):
1. Peacehaven 36, +70, 81
2. Redhill 37, +44, 78
3. Pagham 39, +33, 76
4. Rye United 36, +53, 76
5. East Preston 34, +50, 73
Goals can be viewed on http://www.youtube.com/ptfcsussex