The Magpies returned home for the first time in 2 weeks and after the results of the previous day found themselves defending the last remaining unbeaten record in the SCFL Premier Division despite there only being nearly 4 rounds of matches completed. This fact alone demonstrates the (expected) competitive nature of the division this season and tonight's visitors, Pagham, are expected to be one of those sides around the upper echelons of the table come the Spring months. Although the Lions suffered their first defeat of the campaign against Peacehaven on Saturday, their exploits in the FA Cup have very much caught the eye and as such they would pose a very stern test.
The Magpies were without Joe Holvey, who had not recovered from the injury that ruled him out during the warm-up on Saturday, and Joel Colbran was absent, however they welcomed back Ross Swaine following a combination of suspension and absence that has kept him out of action since the opening day, and new signing Scott Harris came straight into the squad after joining from Horsham on Sunday. Swaine went into the starting line-up, whilst Harris took his place on the bench alongside two-goal hero Gary Pritchard as Manager Dave Cocoracchio shuffled his forward options conscious of a number of challenges to come in quick succession.
That first half started with the visitors having the better of the opening exchanges but not capitalising on half openings but it wasn't long before the Magpies fought their way into the game and the Lion's 'keeper, James Binfield, had to pull off a good save at the feet of a Alfie Gritt following a poor back pass. Two minutes later and Binfield pulled off another excellent save to keep his side level when Ollie Moore set up Gritt for another sight of goal, however, he could do nothing to prevent the deadlock being broken a minute later. Moore drilled the ball into Byron Napper and he neatly clipped the ball in behind the back line for Gritt to run on to a dispatch on the volley from 10 yards out. Pagham tried desperately to get back into the game, with skipper Jamie Horncastle having a header cleared off the line, but Moore soon came close to doubling the hosts' lead when he instinctively curled an effort at goal from 25 yards out only to see the ball canon off the far post and away to safety. Scott Murfin had a chance to get the Lions back into the game on 28 minutes but he couldn’t keep his shot down, and Callum Overton saw his scorching drive from out wide fly past the far post three minutes later. Despite Pagham getting more into the game the Magpies retained the lead at the half time whistle.
The visitors were the ones who seized the initiative at the start of the second half though, First Terrell Lewis sent a dangerous cross into the box that deflected off Eddie French and straight into the grateful arms of Sam Smith, but in the 47th minute Lloyd Rowlatt seized on some loose play in the midfield, skipped past two challenges and then unleashed a fierce drive from 25 yards that flew in off the crossbar giving Smith no chance.
Sixteen minutes later it got worse for the hosts when another loss of possession in the middle was capitalised on, this time enabling Callum Overton to burst through the defence and then showing composure to sidestep Smith before sliding the ball home from a narrow angle to complete the turnaround. Harris and Pritchard were introduced from the Loxwood bench but aside from a Familton drive following a partially cleared corner that went comfortably over, the hosts created precious little to force their way back into the game and as they pushed further to try and restore parity they left themselves susceptible to the break. As such, Pagham's third eventually came, but it did require an impressively flowing move to achieve it with Rowlatt neatly tucking away a Terrell Lewis cross.
A fourth nearly came from the hard-working Scott Murfin as he curled a twenty-yard shot just around the far post in the final minute of normal play, but he eventually got the goal his all-round play deserved in the 5th minute of added time when he ran onto a through ball from Andy Chick before neatly slotting home.
The final scoreline might have been a little flattering to the visitors in terms of the full 90 minutes, but this was a deserved victory and all at Loxwood wish Pagham the very best this coming Saturday as they are in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup away to high-flying Bostik League South side Carshalton Athletic. The Lions are one of just four remaining SCFL representatives and it serves us all well if they can cause an upset. Good luck.