A 79th-minute Nick Sullivan strike was all that separated Horsham YMCA and third-place Pagham, as Peter Buckland’s side ran out impressive 1-0 winners.
The deserved three points helped the hosts reclaim sixth spot in Division 1 on goal difference, and dealt a major blow to the Lions’ chances of being crowned champions.
Buckland said: “We had one or two scares because Pagham are a good side, but I think that the best team won the game of football, without a doubt. We could easily have been 2-0 up at half-time and we had a clear cut penalty.
“We shuffled it up a bit today. Alex Gathern has been really patient and waited for his chance, and I thought that he was man of the match today. He played really well. We’ve got some great options now.
“Sam Schaaf is also starting to perform now. I knew what he had in his locker, but when he joined us he hadn’t played for six weeks, so we have had to phase him in gently. He was strong, he was holding the ball up and he grew into the game.
“Nick, the talisman, came up with the goods again with the goal. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and I thought that it was a good advert for Division 1 football. You won’t see many better games than that in the Ryman South.
“We can still have a big say in what happens in this league now. We’ve still got to play Littlehampton, Eastbourne Town and Dorking Wanderers.”
Horsham YMCA: Lockwood, Carden, Gathern, O’Carroll, Evans, Dugdale, Gedling, D.Sullivan (Hibbert 79), D.Brown, Schaaf, N.Sullivan. Unused Subs: Fox, Doherty, Hyett, J.Brown.
Full report and more reaction in Thursday’s paper.