St Albans City moved up to their highest National League South position since early August after coming behind to beat promotion-chasing Havant & Waterlooville 2-1 away from home.

Jonah Ayunga’s goal after 18 minutes had the home side in front, but after striker Danny Kedwell was sent off eight minutes into the second half, the Saints took advantage by scoring twice in 12 minutes through Sam Merson and Zane Banton to secure all three points.

Ian Allinson made just one change to the side that produced a goalless draw with Oxford City last weekend as Harry Forster came in for Rohdell Gordon.

The Saints started the game brightly and had the first effort of the game through Lewis Gordon, but his shot from distance following a swift passing move went over the crossbar.

Despite St Albans’ good start, it was Havant who took the lead with their first effort on target of the game. A deep cross reached Kedwell at the back post and he nodded into the path of Ayunga, who was left with the simple task of heading past Dean Snedker from two yards out.

Striker Joe Iaciofano came close to pulling the Saints level four minutes later but he could only head wide from Jamie Fielding’s cross.

That proved to be Fielding’s last involvement in the game as he was forced off moments later with a knee injury. The Stevenage loanee was replaced by Munashe Sundire.

Captain David Noble also came close to sending the Saints into the break on level terms, but his free-kick after Solomon Nwabuokei was hacked down curled inches wide of the near post.

The game’s turning point came just eight minutes into the second half when veteran forward Kedwell challenged Tom Bender in the air, catching the Saints man in the face with his elbow and receiving a red card for his troubles from referee Jack Packman.

Allinson opted to introduce Merson in place of Forster as a result of Havant’s dismissal, and it was a decision that was vindicated four minutes later as Merson bagged the equaliser.

Noble swung a corner into the danger area and the 24-year-old rose highest to send a perfect header over Ross Worner and bring the game level.

Momentum was now firmly in Saints’ favour and Merson could have had a brace shortly after his first, but this time his header was straight at the Havant keeper.

Instead, it was left to Banton to notch what proved to be the winner, poking home at the back post after Iaciofano had burst into the box and delivered from the left.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the home side continued to push to get something out of the game, but must have guessed it wouldn’t be their day when Snedker produced a stunning save to tip away Alfie Rutherford’s header.

Snedker proved to be the hero in injury time too, tipping Dean Beckwith’s header over the bar with his final action of the game.

Manager Allinson said of the win: "I think we've been a bit fortunate with the sending off. It allowed us to get back in the game and allowed us to change our shape a bit and we've gone and got the two goals.

"We had to dig really deep because they attacked the ball well and Dean has had to make two really good save in the last 10 minutes to keep it at 2-1, but I'll take the three points all day long."

The result moves the Saints up to 16th in the table, five places and two points clear of safety, ahead of their visit to Chippenham Town this weekend.