ST CLEMENT had to scrap hard to earn the three points they needed to keep their Premiership title hopes alive, surviving a frantic finale in their match against a determined Grouville to win 4-3.
And if anyone was going to score the winner it would be Karl Hinds, who popped up at the death and floored his old Grouville teammates after they had done so well to peg their hosts back from 3-1 down.
It was a scrappy game for much of the 90 minutes, but there were moments of pure magic that lit up this intriguing contest that was full of drama at the end.
Much of the wizardry had come from St Clement wide man Rai dos Santos, who appeared either not to be wearing any shinpads or they were ones he’d got from The Borrowers. He got this seven-goal thriller up and running with the first, a wonderfully executed counter-attack by the home team that was swift and incisive, one-touch football that eventually sent dos Santos through on goal. He took it with wonderful composure, slotting the ball into the bottom left of the goal.
Grouville, though, would not be cowed and should have found an immediate equaliser when Calvin Antunes lacked what dos Santos had in abundance, missing a sitter from six yards out after excellent work down the right-hand side from Andre Nunes.
By now, St Clement were struggling to keep a foot on the ball and this was playing into the hands of Grouville’s rugged intensity.
Eventually, the visitors’ persistence paid off and Antunes played his part to atone for his earlier miss.
Kieren Stephens worked a bit of space on the left-hand side to whip a low cross into the near post. It shouldn’t have caused St Clement goalkeeper Daniel Tostevin too much bother, but Antunes’ dart into his sight line cost him his bearings and Tostevin spilled the ball into his own net.
St Clement came out strong after the restart and it was dos Santos again who was at the heart of their second goal, weaving past defenders along the byline before pulling the ball back to substitute Michael de Barros to fire home with a well-taken clean strike.
Soon after, St Clement got their third. A ball over the top allowed Karl Hinds to get behind the Grouville defence. He had enough pace to get into the box and lay the ball across the Grouville goal for dos Santos to have the easiest of tap-ins at the far post.
But Grouville were far from down and defeated. Another ball pumped over the top saw Blake Derbyshire bomb on from midfield and calmly slot the ball past Tostevin to pull a goal back. Duly lifted, Grouville went in search of an unlikely equaliser and they got it late on when Don McBey headed in Stephens’ long throw.
But then, with the clock ticking, Hinds saved the day for St Clement firing in from close range.