The Magpies made the trip to Pagham on a wind-swept day keen to make amends for both the 6-0 reverse they suffered there in the quarter final of the RUR Cup just before Christmas as well as the 3-0 defeat they had inflicted upon them at home back in September. They were buoyed by the 7 points collected out of the last possible 9 as well as the addition to the matchday squad of recent signings Joe Holvey and Jordan Warren, the latter of which would be making his Loxwood debut against his former club. They were, however missing 'keeper Dave Carruthers although there was quality between the sticks in the shape of Tommy Taylor from Maidstone United's Academy.
After a patchy start to the game, it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal when Charlie Pitcher got away down the right-hand side before driving across goal, but the Lions' 'keeper James Binfield gathered it comfortably. That sparked the hosts into action and after Dan Swain had a speculative effort comfortably saved, Scott Murfin got in behind in the 11th minute and tested Taylor considerably more, but the young stopper did well to push the cross-shot away. 4 minutes later the Magpies put together a neat move on the left that saw Warren slip the ball to Ross Swaine who astutely laid the ball off (above) to Matt Daniel but his shot from a fairly tight angle was off target and flew past the far post. A further 4 minutes after that the hosts proved to be far more clinical with their own move down the left as George Cody got himself free before calmly slotting past the on-rushing Taylor to open the scoring.
Cody would go on to have the clearest opportunities of the remainder of the first half too. He dragged his shot wide following a swift break in the 27th minute and should have done better with a volley on the turn 11 minutes later but his effort went high and wide. He did do better a minute before the break when he sweetly met Murfin's cross but Taylor did well to thwart him and parry the ball to safety. Amongst all that Reece Batchelor showed great athleticism to get across and block a goal-bound drive by Murfin that seemed certain to double the hosts' lead. There was one last heart-in-the-mouth moment for the visitors before the break when Johan Van Driel's free kick from deep somehow evaded everyone in the box and narrowly bounced just past the far post. It was fair to say that the Magpies were counting themselves fortunate to only be one goal down at the break.
Tom Frankland replaced Charlie Pitcher at the break and there was a change to the shape being employed, but it did little to curtail the flow of the match. Possession was lost cheaply at the back and Cody probably should have done better with the opportunity kindly presented to him, but was off target again. Darryl Wollers did have to be alert in the Pagham backline to turn behind a well-delivered free kick from Ollie Gill but this was a mere flicker of hope at the other end and once George Bingham softly lost his marker from a throw-in before lashing the ball past Taylor in the 58th minute you'd have been forgiven for thinking the flame of hope had well and truly been extinguished. This second goal prompted the introduction of Holvey for his Magpies return and Club Captain, Eddie French and this immediately brought about the visitor's best period of sustained pressure but the quality in and around the box was lacking on this blustery afternoon and as such Binfield was never truly tested.
Bingham should have put the game well out of site with just under 20 minutes left but his header from a corner could only clip the bar with Taylor beaten and just 2 minutes later Cody beat the offside trap to be clear through on goal but his execution was lacking and Taylor was able to block the resulting effort. A late break saw Pagham's Ryan Cox pop up on the corner of the box and his fierce drive across goal came back off the post, but the rebound could not be forced home.
Injury time finally saw Binfield called into meaningful action when he had to be alert off his line to block Byron Napper after he was deftly put through by Frankland and with virtually the last kick of the game Gill forced a free kick through the defensive wall, but the subsequent deflection took the sting out of the strike and as such ensured a more than comfortable save was required. That moment summed the afternoon up quite aptly, the visitors never made it uncomfortable for their hosts and on another day the scoreline could have read a lot worse. The Magpies now head home to host Eastbourne Town who had their own setback in a 2-1 defeat at Hassocks this week.
Team: Bachelor, Batchelor (French 64), Colbran, Daniel, Gill, Napper, Pitcher (Frankland 46), Scally, Swaine (Holvey 64), Taylor & Warren Subs not used: Bickell and Camp