St Albans City came from behind to draw 1-1 with Oxford City thanks to Sam Merson’s third goal in three games - but manager Ian Allinson was left to rue two points dropped after the Saints missed a hatful of chances at Clarence Park on Saturday.

The hosts were poor before the break and it was little surprise when they fell behind to Rob Sinclair’s goal from strike partner Matt Patterson’s pass.

Whatever was said by an irate Allinson at the break had the desired effect, and the Saints should have scored long before Merson levelled up with three minutes from time.

Victory would have taken City level on points with play-off occupants Truro in seventh, but a point was enough to lift them up to eighth after 21 games.

The first half was one-way traffic with St Albans lacking ideas from the get-go, and Oxford looked far sharper than their hosts despite a busy schedule of their own.

From one of many attacks they enjoyed before the break Patterson turned Percy Kiangebeni with ease, and slid the ball across for Sinclair to open the scoring from close range.

Patterson should have got one himself from Zac McEachran’s pass but, with an open goal to aim for, somehow St Albans recovered to clear the ball before it could cross the line.

The hosts were a different prospect after the break with Tom Bender providing some quality deliveries from out wide, and Merson coming close to turning two crosses in but finding his way through blocked both times.

He really should have hit the back of the net with 17 minutes to go, when he flicked another Bender pass over the defence and ran through.

But when clean through, he planted the ball straight at Jack Stevens in the Oxford goal.

With three minutes to go though, he made amends, beating the opposition keeper at last to set up a grandstand finish, during which Oxford held frustratingly firm to deny their hosts.

Allinson was unhappy with his side’s start, but felt on the balance of play they had, not for the first time, ended up shortchanged from their afternoon’s work.

He said: “Oxford have had a tough month with their FA Cup run, but we showed them a little bit too much respect early on.

“We weren’t at the game, we never really got to grips with them and we were a little bit lazy.

“Once we got to grips with them in the second half and began to press a bit further forward, how we’ve not come away with three points is beyond me - but it’s the story of our season with the amount of chances we’ve had.

“We didn’t start well at all, we were on the back foot and very flat. We took too long to get forward and to press their back four, and we slowed it down too much in the first half.

“It was a team of individuals in the first time, but as a team in the second we showed how good we could be.

“We had five or six really good opportunities which we should score and go on to win the game.”

St Albans City: Snedker, Herd, Bender, Noble (Walker 64), Kiangebeni, Moore-Azille, Murrell-Williamson, Sambou, Merson, Monlouis, Banton (Pinney 88). Not used : Eadie, Joseph, Allinson-Stalham