Victory over high-flying Havant keeps St Albans City’s head above the relegation waters

Sam Merson got St Albans City's first goal at Havant & Waterlooville. Picture: JIM STANDEN

Sam Merson got St Albans City's first goal at Havant & Waterlooville. Picture: JIM STANDEN - Credit: Archant

St Albans City are up to their highest position in National League South since August after a 2-1 victory away to promotion-chasing Havant & Waterlooville.

Goals from Sam Merson and Zane Banton saw Saints come from behind to claim the three points and move up to 16th, albeit still just two points above the relegation zone.

This game swung their way following the sending off of Danny Kedwell eight minutes into the second-half, the referee seeing a swinging arm on Tom Bender as they pair leapt for a high ball and producing an instant red card.

The visitors to Westleigh Park had started brightly with Lewis Gordon having the first attempt of the game when he fired over the bar from range following a swift passing move across the face of the home box.

However, it was the Hawks who broke the deadlock on 18 minutes with the game's first effort on target.

A delivery from the left reached Kedwell at the back post and his header back across goal was nodded in from two yards by Jonah Ayunga.

Joe Iaciofano almost levelled things up four minutes later but the forward could only manage to put his header from Jamie Fielding's cross wide of Ross Worner's post.

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That was Fielding's last involvement in the game as the defender was forced off with a knee injury moments later, replaced by Munashe Sundire who was just returning from injury himself.

Havant were forced into an unplanned change too before the break when goalscorer Ayunga also left with a knock.

City captain David Noble came closest to getting his team an equaliser with a free-kick from 20 yards. That went inches wide though.

Kedwell's dismissal may have proved the turning point but the introduction of Merson was also pivotal.

He came on after 62 minutes and four minutes later had scored a fine goal, heading a Noble corner over Worner and into the back of the net.

He could have doubled his tally but this second header was straight at the goalkeeper following another delivery from Noble but moments after that City were in front.

A quick move down the left put Iaciofano into the box and from his low cross Banton poked home at the back post.

Dean Snedker had to make a spectacular stop to tip Alfie Rutherford's header from going in under his crossbar and he made an equally impressive stop in added time to deny Dean Beckwith.

City too had chances, most notably from Iaciofano but a third was not needed.