Bob Paine believes East Preston are adapting to life in the SCFL Premier Division all the time.
EP, who finished 13th in their first season back in the league last term, sit in exactly the same position with 19 games of the season gone.
And Paine’s troops could have ended a brilliant year with victory over Pagham on Saturday.
Asa Nicholson and Lucas Pattenden twice fired East Preston ahead at The Lashmar in the league clash, only for Lions to twice roar back as it finished 2-2.
Despite seeing leads come and go on two occasions, Paine was pleased with his side’s end to 2018.
“It was another battling performance from the group full of desire, great character and our work rate was first class,” Paine said.
“There were spells in the match where we were under pressure but we defended very well and were always dangerous going forward.
“Last season we would have lost this match and it is clear the progression we are making in this very competitive league.
“The year 2018 has been a good one for us consolidating our Premier Division status.
“We look forward to 2019 as we hope to improve and develop on the year just ending.”
The hosts were quick out of the traps and ahead inside ten minutes.
James Binfield superbly kept out a fierce drive from Jack Barnes.
But from the resulting corner, Nicholson’s quality header found the top corner.
George Bentley was called into action on a couple of occasions as Pagham started to hit their straps.
Lions forward Simmonds was sent racing away, only for Bentley to stand tall and keep his attempt out.
Pagham did not have to wait long to get back level after the restart. Centre-half Josh Etherington was harshly judged to have handled in the area, with a penalty awarded on 48 minutes. Simmonds stepped up to slam home.
East Preston were back in front ten minutes from time, though.
Pattenden beat two defenders before finding the corner.
It looked as though East Preston would end the year with an impressive victory but Pagham found a way back in.
Daryll Wollers’ cross looped over Bentley, finding the far corner as it ended all square. The hosts had to see out the final few minutes with ten men after Steve Herbert was shown a straight red card for using foul and abusive language in a melee after the goal.
East Preston travel to Hassocks for their first action of 2019 on Saturday before hosting Peacehaven & Telscombe on Tuesday.
East Preston were 2-1 derby winners at rivals Arundel in a SCFL Premier Division clash on Boxing Day.
EAST PRESTON: Bentley; DaCosta, Herbert, Jenkins, Etherington, Searle, Pattenden, Barnes, Huet, Nicholson, Brodie. Subs: Slaughter (Jenkins, 45), Rafferty (Brodie, 70), Heryet (Huet, 85), Crook, Pidgeon.
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