An unfit Dale Tempest came to South China's rescue last night after rising from the substitutes' bench and inspiring his team to a priceless victory over lowly Golden in a turgid Ericsson League match at Mongkok Stadium. Tempest - still recovering from a knee ligament injury sustained in last week's Carlsberg Cup - bravely joined his team's bid for a win as the match seemed destined for a 0-0 draw. Within 30 seconds of Tempest coming on to the field in the 76th minute, South China had sneaked into the lead courtesy of a scrambled effort from Radislav Ignjic. Although Golden continued to pressure a shaky Caroliners defence, South China were able to cling on for a win which Tempest believes has kept his team's flagging title hopes alive. 'I hadn't really wanted to play but, really, if we hadn't taken three points from this game tonight then we would have had to kiss goodbye to our title chances . . . it was real desperation stuff,' Tempest said. 'Our season could have died there and then if we hadn't got the win and that was the reason I wanted to come on. It was all hands to the pump.' The three points consolidates South China's fourth place position in the league's first phase standings. They now have 20 points from 11 games and could come right back into the title reckoning if they are able to grab another victory over rivals and league leaders Instant Dict on Sunday. Tempest is hoping to be fit enough for this weekend's showdown but is not banking on making a recovery. 'I don't know how my knee is going to hold up. Although I played on it tonight it still does not feel at all right,' he said. 'If I have to turn suddenly or it twists awkwardly, then I'm going to be in trouble. I'll stick it in ice for the next three days and see what happens, but I am hoping to be able to start on Sunday,' he added. On last night's showing, South China can ill-afford to be without Tempest for Sunday's critical encounter. Au Wai-lun may be back from injury, but South China still lack firepower in front of goal and are a long way off their best. Midfielder Joachim Grandelius normally provides added bite from the centre of the park, but last night the Swede was virtually anonymous for long spells and South China suffered as a result. In fact, if it had not been for a courageous performance by Hong Kong goalkeeper Kevin Lok Kar-win - who pulled off a string of crucial stops - South China would probably have been contemplating their fourth defeat of the season this morning. On three separate occasions Lok sprinted from his goal to close down Golden's attackers, who seemed to be able to get the better of the South China back four at will. Brazilian livewire Anilton Da Conceicao was South China's tormentor-in-chief, probing and picking apart the South China defence with ease. Compatriot Lamartine Da Silva nearly opened the scoring for Golden in the first half with a 25-yard free-kick which was punched away by Lok. But, despite creating plenty of opportunities, the underdogs were unable to make it count. In last night's other match, Rangers sneaked a barely deserved 2-1 victory over third-placed Sing Tao with a freak goal from Kevin Hunt. Hunt's 83rd-minute winner flew into the Sing Tao net after bouncing off the midfielder's chest. Earlier, Sing Tao had looked on course for a straightforward win when Zeljko Gavrilovic cracked in a marvellous shot on the turn from 25 yards. Crucially, Rangers got straight back in the game within a minute. A horrible mix-up in the Sing Tao defence opened the door for Cheung Yiu-lun, who darted in to slot home from a narrow angle.