St Albans City returned to winning ways in the National League South with a hard-earned 1-0 victory against Hampton and Richmond Borough on Saturday.

A nervy first half finished goalless, but just after the hour mark Zane Banton’s strike gave the Saints a deserved victory in a game they had the better of throughout.

The match started in a tentative fashion and it took the best part of half-an-hour for the first chance to be created.

It fell the way of the visitors when Khale Da Costa moved swiftly down the right-hand side and delivered a teasing ball towards the back post where David Moyo rose above Rian Bray, but his header dropped down into the turf before glancing wide.

Moyo had another opportunity to give the visitors the lead when the ball fell to him after a melee in the penalty area. He hooked the ball over the top with the goal at his mercy.

Meanwhile, Da Costa carried a threat for Saints throughout and he was involved again just eight minutes later when he almost opened the scoring.

He cut into the box and drifted past Simon Downer, but his powerful strike from the angle failed to get past Tom Lovelock in the Beavers goal and he tipped over the bar to keep the contest goalless.

Moyo had a third chance to give the Saints a first-half lead just before the interval, but his acrobatic effort inside a crowded penalty area missed the target and the sides went in level at the break.

The hosts made a change during half-time, bringing on Craig Dundas for Zak Joseph, but it would have little impact on the game, with St Albans continuing to look the better of the two sides.

Their positivity created the breakthrough just after the hour mark following some intricate passing that saw Da Costa pick out Banton in the box with a back heel and the former Luton Town man took a touch and then finished with aplomb.

The hosts nearly equalised just three minutes later when Solomon Sambou brought down a Hampton man 25 yards out, but Matt Whichelow’s free-kick was kept out by Dean Snedker.

Ian Allinson’s side searched for a second and it nearly came courtesy of Sambou when he met Moyo’s cross from the left at the back post. The midfielder mistimed his jump and ended up skewing his header off target.

Da Costa then went close to finding the elusive second after he twisted and turned on the edge of the Hampton penalty area, but his left-footed effort curled just over the bar.

The Beavers created only their second shot on target in the final stages of the game after some positive play that had Saints on the back foot for the first time in the match.

However, Chris Dickson’s snap shot on the turn gave Snedker little to worry about and the goalkeeper gathered comfortably low to his right.

Saints regained possession and held on through stoppage time to ensure they picked up their first league win in four games.

The victory keeps St Albans in seventh place in the table, just inside the play-off places, and they could climb past both Welling and Billericay into fifth with a win against bottom place Weston-Super-Mare this weekend.