A disgruntled Ian Allinson bemoaned the dismissal of Ben Herd, which he felt cost his side in their 3-2 defeat against Gloucester City.

The Saints were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute after Ben Herd handled in the area to concede a penalty, which allowed the visitors to claim a 2-1 lead early in the second half.

While Allinson had no qualms about the award of a spot kick, he felt the decision to send Herd off was unjust.

“I have just watched the incident back and Ben is trying to block the ball. Yes it has hit his hand, and ok it is a penalty, but it is never a red card for me,” Allinson said.

“That is not a deliberate handball, it is a handball where he has tried to block it and it has hit his hand.

“Deliberate handball is stopping a goal, tipping the ball over the bar. That was no way deliberately stopping a goal.

“It is sad really because the players were outstanding today. For me, it was the best performance of the season and we have come away with nothing.”

The defeat, which is City’s second in succession after starting the National League South campaign with six straight wins, saw the hosts start slowly at Clarence Park.

They were behind with just three minutes played after poor marking at a corner gave San Avery a free header which he dispatched with aplomb.

City responded to the set back well and were level 10 minutes before the break as Shaun Lucien rounded off a jinking run with a fine finish via the underside of the crossbar.

Heard’s handball gave Edward Williams the a chance from 12 yards which he duly dispatched, sending Dean Snedker the wrong way.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, City battled on and were level with 13 minutes to play when a low cross picked out Tom Gardiner who converted from close range.

City’s hearts were broken in the 84th minute, however, when their problems from set pieces cost them once more.

On this occasion Robbie Cundy was granted a free run at the near post and glanced a header home to deny City a share of the spoils.

Saturday’s result is, of course, a disappointment, but City can still take solace from a productive start to the campaign.

They remain third in the table, a point adrift of league leaders Chelmsford City, and Allinson is pleased with what he has seen from his side so far this term.

He said: “If somebody had offered me 18 points after eight games I would have snapped their hands off, so we need to pick ourselves up.

“The work rate was there today and the quality of the football was outstanding at times, we just need to get more gaols and defend better at set pieces.”

Allinson will hope to see his side return to winning ways against Eastbourne Borough on Saturday as the league’s ninth placed side visit Clarence Park.

Borough will be no pushovers and are in strong form, having taken 11 points from an unbeaten run in their last five games.

They come into the game on the back of a 4-2 win over Chippenham, which was Jamie Howell’s first home win in charge.