Carshalton Athletic 5 Pagham 3
It was a frustrating, nail-biting, thrilling afternoon as Carshalton Athletic managed to eventually beat a spirited Pagham in the FA Cup, writes James Barrett-Sterling.
Team news: Kalvin Morath-Gibbs, Brendan Murphy-McVey and Michael Campbell were given starts in three changes from Monday’s win at Corinthian Casuals.
We got off to the worst possible start as, on five minutes, a Richard Ossai clearance was collected by the opposition and Terrell Lewis finally got beyond Ricardo Panton before angling a shot back across our keeper.
Both keepers were being harried by their opposing number nines during the opening 10 minutes, but the next real chance fell to Pagham on 12 minutes – Callum Overton got onto a Joe Kilhams pass and seemed destined to score from 10 yards but Jordan Cheadle stood firm to block.
Our first glimpse of goal came on 16 minutes as Danny Dudley ventured forward over halfway. Campbell made some space with a run across the defence but our defender dragged his shot off target.
And our best spell of play came three minutes later – Bobby Price headed a clearance towards Mickel Miller and his pace got him the room to send over a cross. Murphy-McVey and Peter Adeniyi shifted the ball out to Morath-Gibbs but his placed effort flew over the bar.
But Pagham got their travelling fans dreaming of Wembley as Callum Overton got on the ball and rode a couple of half-hearted challenges before slamming a shot beyond the dive of Ossai.
It was no more than we deserved up to that point, our performance had been lacklustre and we had Ossai to thank for keeping it down to two on 36 minutes. He parried a speculative Lloyd Rowlatt effort out at full stretch, with Cheadle then clearing in front of the lurking Overton.
We rallied a bit before the end of the half but keeper James Binfield twice denied us – firstly he got a finger on a dinked Miller effort to help the ball roll across his gaping goal, then he got down to parry away a low Campbell effort that was creeping in at the near post.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 2
Raheem Sterling-Parker was introduced at the start of the second-half and he won us an early corner which Josh Phillips headed over from close range.
But we seemed a lot more energetic, kept on the front foot and Miller, on 51 minutes, worked some space 20 yards from goal. He looked up and smashed a thunderbolt past Binfield to give us a route back into the game.
And things got better six minutes later after Campbell latched on to a long clearance down the left.
He held off his marker and tried to pull the ball back towards incoming teammates, but it was just cleared. Peter Adeniyi did turn the ball back into Sterling-Parker’s path however and he showed good strength before turning a shot in off the far post.
The home fans went wild and the relief around Colston Avenue was palpable.
Our next attack saw us win a corner which Campbell neatly brought down and he appeared to be felled by an opponent. The referee blew up but not for a penalty, booking our man for apparent simulation.
The puff had left our opponents as they now struggled to contain our attacks, but there was a warning sign on 67 minutes as they forced two corners, the second of which eventually fell to Scott Murfin but his shot flashed wide.
But we weren’t to be denied as we looked the more likely and we took the lead for the first time as Kalvin Morath-Gibbs rose highest to head Cheadle’s free kick delivery in for his second goal in the competition.
We almost made it four on 78 minutes – firstly Campbell played Phillips in on goal. The young forward did everything right but Binfield pounced to turn the ball round for a corner. Dudley trotted up and met the delivery but his header crashed off the post.
Then the mood within the ground changed twice in the space of 60 seconds.
Pagham stunned us with a rare attack that ended up with a pass being pulled back from our byline that the unmarked Murfin firmly side-footed home.
As the stunned home crowd took stock, and the visiting fans celebrated jubilantly, from the restart Cheadle sent a raking 50 yard pass out towards Miller. He took the ball down, got at his marker and travelled along the byline before squeezing it in from the tightest angle.
Colston Avenue erupted and our lead was back intact – it would’ve been hard to begrudge Pagham their moment but we had completely dominated the second-half and even more was to come.
Miller had a chance to get his hat-trick on 89 minutes after he latched on to a Sterling-Parker through ball and lofted an effort over Binfield but not the crossbar.
But he wasn’t to be denied the match ball as, in added time, Miller took the ball past a couple of tired bodies inside the Pagham area before thumping it into the back of the net.
The draw for the second qualifying round takes place on Monday 4th September.