Broadbridge Heath picked up their first-ever Premier Division point at home to Pagham on Tuesday night, despite having goalkeeper Kieron Thorp sent off in the first half.
Since returning to the league’s top flight, Heath have failed to get a single point at home to Pagham and when they were reduced to ten-man in first-half injury-time it looked like that sorry record would continue.
But a hard-working Bears managed to hold the so-far unbeaten Lions, who also had a player sent-off in the second half and were reduced to nine men late on, to a 0-0 draw at the Leisure Centre.
Scott Weller had the first chance of the game when the Heath midfield player tried his luck with a long-range shot, it went straight into the arms of the Pagham keeper James Binfield.
The visitors looked particular dangerous on the counter-attack and midway through the half James Thurgar got away from the Heath defence and chipped the advancing Thorp, but his shot sailed wide of the right post.
There was a repeat of that move ten minutes before the break but again Thurgar shot wide of the post. In between those efforts, Weller was unlucky with a right-foot shot from 20 yards that Binfield saved at full-length low to his left.
The game swung in Pagham’s favour in injury-time when Thorp, making his home debut, came sprinting off his line to clear the ball and clattered straight into the Lions striker, an easy decision for the referee who immediately produced a red card from his back pocket and the Bears were down to 10.
Richard Wetton, signed from Lingfield just 24 hours earlier, volunteered to take over in goal for the Bears, who started the second period on the ascendancy with Devon Fender twice going close and Marlon Maxwell glancing a header just inches wide of Binfield’s right hand post.
At the other end, the Lions were testing Wetton’s handling with shots from distance but things evened up on the hour when Howard Neighbour’s shot was gathered comfortably by Wetton, who last played in goal at under-11 level.
The stand-in goalkeeper was then floored by Ryan Davidson who crashed into the stopper leaving both players in need of treatment, after several minutes Davidson got off the ground and was shown a yellow card for the foul, proceeded immediately by a red for his second caution of the game.
Play continued from end to end with George Bingham closest for the visitors with a low shot just wide of the post.
The best chance of the match came in the 93rd minute when Fender broke away down the right and played the ball into Louis Blake, who’d only been on the field for a couple of minutes, but Binfield was off his line quickly to smoother the shot.
In the final minute, Pagham were reduced to nine when a late Andy Chick challenge was considered dangerous by the match referee who produced his red card for the third time in the game.
On Saturday, Heath are in FA Vase action when they travel to East Preston, Kick-off is 3pm.
Heath: Thorp, Clark, Robinson, Woodburn, Maxwell, Bold, Carney, Weller, Howell (Blake 92), Fender, Wetton.