Ian Allison says stern words were required to inspire his St Albans City side at half-time during their 1-1 draw with Chelmsford City on Saturday.

The Saints were slow out of the blocks against their fellow National League South play-off chasers and went into the interval trailing 1-0 to Elliot Buchanan’s 13th minute effort.

They were much-improved during the second period and snatched a point through Louie Theophanous five minutes from time.

Allinson was left frustrated by his side’s slow start and ensured they were aware of his irritation during half-time.

“First and foremost you have to earn the right to be in the game and we didn’t in the first half,” Allinson said.

“They were stronger than us, quicker to the ball, retained possession better and we struggled.

“To be fair, it took a few harsh words at half-time just to get us a little bit lively. We changed the shape, which seemed to get us back in the game and we had more attacking threat.”

Despite their struggles, City could have snatched a much-needed win late on as the Chelmsford keeper made two good saves.

Allinson rates Chelmsford highly and therefore viewed Saturday’s result as a point gained rather than two dropped.

“They are up there for a reason and are a good side. You have to give them full credit for the way they play the game, it caused us a lot of problems,” he said.

“They are still the best side we have played all season and have a really good squad, with good strength in depth.

“They will push on for the rest of the season, so to come here and get a point is a bonus.”

Theophanous’ late goal ended a personal goal draught of 14-games.

The Saints will hope he can recapture the form he showed earlier in the season and Allinson says he has been impressed with the striker in recent weeks.

“I felt he was getting back into the mould where he is going to start scoring goals again for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“Hopefully he can kick on now for the rest of the season, as he did at this time last year.”

Saturday’s stalemate leaves City eighth in the table, some four points adrift of the play-off places.

Their remaining league fixtures appear, on paper at least, to be easier, with only three of their last 13 games being against teams in the top seven.

Allinson is nonetheless eager for City to remain focused and insists they must start picking up wins if they are to keep their promotion hopes alive.

“We still have Ebbsfleet and Dartford at home and those are going to be tough games with the way those teams are playing,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who you play in this league as we saw when we went to Concord [Rangers] and lost.

“We need to start turning results into wins because three points are massive at the moment. Defeats and draws are not going to get us anywhere.”