Trinity are now two points behind champions Jersey Scottish – a gap that could increase to five as the Scots have a game in hand.
Joint-manager Joe Morley admits that his side now face an uphill struggle in their bid to regain a title lost to Scottish last season – but says his boys will fight on to the death.
‘It’s going to be difficult now,’ he said, ‘but we’ll just keep plugging away because anything can still happen – and one thing’s for certain – we’ll never give up at this club.’ Jean-Paul Martyn’s outrageous 20-yard thunderbolt in the fifth minute was enough to give the Saints a deserved 1-0 lead at half time – but Trinity came out fighting and equalised in the 58th minute through Muratti striker David Le Roux.
Trinity looked favourites from this point, but in the 65th minute their title hopes dived.
Referee Mark Le Cornu deemed that Darren Swanson had ‘deliberately played the ball towards his own goal’ – an opinion echoed amongst the majority of the Springfield crowd, although not Trinity boss Morley, and when keeper Jimmy Styles handled the referee awarded an indirect free kick inside the penalty area.
The kick was knocked back to livewire Craig Leitch, whose blistering shot catapulted off the unfortunate Trinity wall and into the path of St Paul’s junior Jamie Allan.
Allan took the ball on his chest before rifling into the top corner from ten yards, scoring his first goal for the seniors and sending his team-mates ballistic.
The player, also making a name for himself in the rugby world, was fortunate to be on the pitch, however – he arrived at Springfield with no boots! ‘I couldn’t find any boots,’ said Allan, ‘so I just borrowed some – and after that I think I’ll try and get them for the next game as well!’ Allan was magnificent on the night, as were the entire St Paul’s team.
Trinity can argue they had the lion’s share of possession, but they created little.
St Paul’s soaked up the pressure, with Lee Bradshaw and Stuart André outstanding at the back.
Bradshaw won everything in the air and André was an inspiration, so, with James Hibbs a relative veteran at 23, these boys have the potential to become a championship winning side.
Along the spine of the team they were solid; from back through to Stephen Jones and Hibbs in midfield, right up to Martyn and Leitch up front.
Stephen Jones was a pest in midfield, scrapping for every ball and preventing his namesake, Trinity’s Paul Jones, from having any real influence.
If you could bottle the St Paul’s players’ attitude you’d be a millionaire, and Jones was the epitome of this.
He never shirked a challenge and refused to feel pain, despite being on the end of a number of crunching tackles.
Robbie Whittaker was at the St Paul’s helm last night, with previous joint-manager Bill Begbie relinquishing the position before Christmas and team boss Paul Durrans currently away on holiday.
‘I’m delighted with the result and the performance’ he said.
‘We showed great bounce-back ability after our defeat to Grouville on Saturday and I’m looking forward to the next game.’ Whittaker is a long-standing servant of the club and admits he would like to continue as an assistant when Durrans returns, although he is not ready to relinquish his playing career just yet.
‘I’ve been at St Paul’s since I was a junior’ he says, ‘this is my club and I would like to help Paul Durrans if I can.
‘But I’m only 25 and I’m hoping to keep playing for a few years yet!’ The Saints now not only have a young side, with the majority of players aged 21 or younger, they have a young coach in Robbie Whittaker – and on last night’s evidence, the future looks bright for St Paul’s.
Teams: St Paul’s: Daniel Evans, Shaun Irving, Jamie Allan, Lee Bradshaw, Stephen Jones, Stuart Andre, James Hibbs, David Watson (Lucas Parker, 66), Jean-Paul Martyn, Craig Leitch (Jay Cassidy), Glen Durrans.
Subs not used: Karl Hayes, Nick Hogan, Callum Duffy.
Trinity: Jimmy Styles, James Hayward, Alan Brown (Stephen Holt, 67), Ray Grant, David Lloyd, Steven Wilkinson, Darren Swanson, Lee Jones (Chris Richards 69), Paul Banahan, Gerrard Meadows (Paul Cook, 79), David Le Roux.
Sub not used: Graham Ling.
Referee: Mark Le Cornu.
Assistants: Mark Brophy, Ray Sutcliffe.