Ian Allinson has warned his players they must improve after St Albans City suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Welling United on Saturday.

City led through David Noble’s 50th minute effort, but Bradley Goldberg hit back almost immediately and further strikes from Jack Parkinson and Jamie Philpot sealed City’s fate.

The result came as somewhat of a surprise as play-off candidates City lost to a United side sitting 11th in the table.

With recent talk of a potential title push at Clarence Park, Allinson says his side must expect opposition to battle harder when they face the Saints.

“We are going to have to raise our game because every team is going to want to beat us. These players have got to learn,” Allinson said.

“When the going gets tough you have to dig deep and punish teams when you have good spells.”

City were the better side for the first half and took a deserved lead when Noble calmly converted from the spot after Rhys Murrell-Williamson had been upended.

The hosts were level straight from the restart, though, after Goldberg found the top corner from just inside the area.

Parity soon became 2-1 to Welling when a 55th minute corner was bundled in by Parkinson.

A breakaway allowed Philpot to tap in on the counter with just under 20 minutes to leave City with too steep a mountain to climb to get back into the game.

The defeat was hard to take for Allinson, who was critical of the manner in which the Saints allowed a hard-earned advantage slip away.

“I thought we played ever so well in the first half and worked really hard. We came out a little bit sloppily in the second half and switched off when we got the breakthrough,” he said.

“We capitulated and I thought we were second best and they deserved it in the end.

“I didn’t see it coming, I felt comfortable and I probably have to look at myself. When the goal goes in, maybe we have to get into the players and make sure everybody is switched on.”

City’s play-off ambitions remain well on track in spit of the loss and they sit sixth in the table with 13 games left to play.

They enjoy a single point advantage on eighth place Braintree Town and will take confidence from having two games in hand over them.

A late charge for the title seems unlikely, with league leaders Dartford sitting nine points ahead of them.

Once again, however, a coupe of games in hand mean City supporters won’t rule out causing a surprise in the season run in.

City will look to get back to winning ways when they take on Chippenham Town at Clarence Park on Saturday.

Town fell to within four points of the relegation zone after being held to a 3-3 draw by Hampton & Richmond on Saturday.

Victory over the National League strugglers could take City up to fourth in the table, dependant on results elsewhere.