Lions pride: Pagham claim stunning comeback at Horley
Pagham came back from a 2-0 deficit at high-flying Horley Town to claim a famous win - with boss Karry Hardwell admitting: I thought Horley would see it out at two up.
Despite playing almost all the quality football in the game the Lions found themselves 2-0 down midway through the second half - but kept playing their game and snatched an unlikely winner five minutes from time.
Pagham looked the better side right from the off, but for all the good football, created very few chances. Jared Rance (twice) and Dave Crouch both had decent long shots saved, but what looked to be the first real chance of the game did go in the net – at the other end of the pitch.
Returning forward Callum Chalmers tried to lob the Horley keeper but his shot was smothered as it left his foot. Horley then burst up the pitch and Mark Quiassaca’s excellent run and cross was swept home by Poplett in the 27th minute.
Rance had a fierce shot saved and Jack Barnes almost got his foot to a low cross, but try as they might, the Lions went in at half-time one down.
Chalmers was first into the action after the break, having a shot smothered on the line, before Pagham goalie Conor Kelly had to make two saves at the other end. And then, disaster. Ollie Hambleton, trying to clear a corner, somehow headed the ball backwards, over Kelly and into the net for a 2-0 Horley lead after 55 minutes.
It was a shortlived two-goal lead though as, three minutes later, a long ball split the Clarets defence and Rance was there to tuck the ball home and halve the deficit.
It was all Pagham now and the equaliser came on 65 minutes, when Barnes rifled in a low shot only for the Horley keeper to make a mess of it and the ball flew into the net for 2-2.
Twice Rance thought he had scored but was thwarted by keeper Hyde, but he was not to be denied five minutes from the end. He beat two defenders on the edge of the box and his fierce shot rebounded off the inside of both posts and into the back of the net.
He was only about a foot away from his second successive hat-trick in injury time, but 3-2 was enough and it was still a great win and a great and determined performance by everyone involved.
It put Pagham up to fourth in the SCFL premier, level on points with Horley and just five points off leaders Saltdean.
Lions boss Kerry Hardwell said: "I was delighted to pick up another three points against a good Horley side - the boys deserved the points and this group's never say die attitude is fantastic to be a part of.
"We found ourselves one down at half-time and the team talk was quite a hard one as we had controlled the pace of the game with Horley only having two shots on target first half.
"To then find ourselves 2-0 down with a bizarre own goal I thought we would see the experience of the Horley side see the game out; however the boys' fitness levels have been great since coming back - a huge part of that in my opinion is the workout schedule that Nathan da Costa at Sussex performance centre gave the boys during the last lockdown.
"We really did go through the gears in the last 30 minutes and three fantastic goals from Jack barnes and Jared Rance with two got us all three points and made it two wins in a week."
Pagham: Conor Kelly, Tom Atkinson, Ryan Hallett, George Bingham (Joe Clarke), Jack Williamson, Ben Clark-Eden, Jared Rance, Jack Barnes, Callum Chalmers, Ollie Hambleton (Sam Connolly) & Dave Crouch (Joe Bennett). Subs not used: Grant Radmore & Dylan Jelley.
Pagham host Langney next Saturday.