Grouville and St Ouen draw in Premiership opener

Grouville and St Ouen draw in Premiership opener
Grouville led twice at Le Boulivot but were forced to settle for a point

Fabio Pestana's stoppage-time penalty secured a share of the spoils for St Ouen in a 2-2 draw at Grouville on the opening day of the new Jersey Premiership season.

Edgar Da Costa's two headers, both from long Kieren Stephens throws, had twice put the hosts ahead at Le Boulivot, either side of Ben Cesar's strike.

But a 91st minute handball in the box gave substitute Pestana the chance to secure a point for the westerners, and his coolly struck spot kick sent goalkeeper Jacob Videgrain the wrong way.

Grouville, who are getting to grips with life without prolific striker Karl Hinds after his summer switch to St Clement, dominated first-half territory and possession and were in front inside nine minutes. Stephens' throw from the left was met by the head of Da Costa at the near post, with a slight deflection helping it on its way into the back of Luke Duncan's net.

Grouville were runners-up in last season's Premiership, finishing five points off champions St Peter

As frustrations grew, two yellow cards from referee Neil Giannoni were shown the way of the St Ouen coaching team. There were five coaches crammed into that technical area. Had they spent less time shouting about decisions that went against them, and more time working collaboratively on a plan to combat the Stephens long throws, their side might well have fared better in this game.

St Ouen midfielder Tom Murray saw his curling effort go wide of the right-hand post, but it was Duncan who was the busier of the two keepers, saving well from Dee Nunes and then twice in quick succession from Stephens.

The visitors pulled level though with the help of a Grouville mix-up at the back, with Cesar on hand in the right place to slot the ball into an empty net and send the teams in level at the break.

Kieren Stephens throw
Grouville's long throws were a thorn in the side of St Ouen throughout

On the hour mark, Duncan saved well from Robert Martins-Figuira, parrying away the left-footed effort. But five minutes later the hosts edged in front again. A missile-like Stephens throw, this time from the right, again nodded home by Da Costa in a mirror image of the first goal. "We know what's coming", St Ouen defenders had bellowed out. Stopping it, though, was a different matter.

St Ouen, who have already booked their spot in next month's Charity Cup final, scored just 23 goals in their 14 league outings last season. Their heads could have dropped at 2-1 down, but to their credit they battled on. Clear-cut equalising chances were few and far between, but the golden opportunity came when a long throw of their own was handled in the box and new signing Pestana's left-footed penalty into the bottom right corner secured the point.

Neither team seemed particularly pleased at the full-time whistle, but Grouville will be the more disappointed having twice led at home, carried the more attacking threat, and been just a couple of minutes away from taking all three points.

The match was the opening fixture of the new-look Premiership 1 season. St Paul's and St Brelade, under the new management of Robbie Whittaker and Adam Lester respectively, will look to open their league accounts when they meet on Tuesday evening.

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Grouville: Jacob Videgrain, Stewart Daynes, Callum Barry, Charles Stewart, Connor Lloyd, Blake Derbyshire, Max Rivers, Kieren Stephens, Dee Nunes, Edgar Da Costa, Robert Martins-Figuiera. Subs: Harry Ecobichon, Chris Burton, Josh Hinds.

St Ouen: Luke Duncan, Calum Huckerby, Jack Steel, Jay Curtis, Kirchner Orland do Prado Souza, Joe Murphy, Cristiano Ascencao, Tom Murray, Ben Cesar, Evan Nobes, Harry Kidman. Subs: Fabio Pestana, Dan Huelin, Elliot Stephens, Lucas Parker, Ryan Marcinko.