Goals either side of half-time saw Dartford come from behind to inflict a 2-1 defeat on St Albans City.

Joe Iaciofano’s penalty put the Saints in front but Liam Nash equalised before the break before a Darren McQueen spot-kick proved to be the winner for the Darts.

Saints had the lion’s share of possession in the second half but were unable to find the elusive equaliser, largely down to Dartford’s solid defence.

The result means it’s now back-to-back defeats for St Albans and they still find themselves in the National League South relegation zone, unable to capitalise on other results from the teams around them.

The home side started on top but it was a largely quiet affair to begin with. Dartford struggled to get out of their half as City pushed them further and further back, but there were no real attempts at goal early on.

After 21 minutes, the breakthrough came when Iaciofano tried to beat Josh Hill in the box after latching onto Zane Banton’s through ball and the referee adjudged that he had handled after the ball popped up.

Iaciofano stepped up and superbly dinked it down the middle to break the deadlock and give Saints the lead.

Dartford, though, quickly got on level terms as Dean Snedker was unable to hold a long-range effort from Amrit Bansal-McNulty, and Nash was the quickest to follow in and convert from the rebound.

Banton was causing problems for the Darts down the left-hand side and he almost provided an assist for Dave Diedhiou, but he fired narrowly wide of the upright from just outside the box.

Harry Forster, on loan from Watford, was also giving Dartford a hard time, with his dribbling skills proving a real problem for the away defence to deal with.

However, after going into the break at 1-1, it took just five minutes of the second half for Dartford to go in front.

Elliot Roman was sent tumbling in the box and McQueen’s penalty high to the left of Snedker was virtually unsavable.

The Saints felt they should have had a second penalty of their own, and what would have been the third of the game, when Iaciofano went over in the box, but he was controversially booked for simulation after the decision went the other way.

There was to be one last late chance for the Saints when Munashe Sundire struck a half-volley from 25-yards that completely beat Mark Smith in the Dartford goal, but the post came to the keeper’s rescue and the ball bounced away.

Defeat leaves St Albans in the relegation zone, still level on points with Dulwich Hamlet a place above them after their defeat to leaders Wealdstone.

Tonbridge Angels, Eastbourne Borough and Braintree Town are all also within a point on the Saints, with Billericay Town and Concord Rangers in touching distance.

Saints manager Ian Allinson said on the game: “I think the whole of the referee’s performance is guided by the first penalty. He’s given them one early in the second half to level it up and he wasn’t going to give another one after that.

“[It’s] a bit disappointing but it was an entertaining game. I felt that was our best performance for a while even with the wins at Bath and Havant & Waterlooville. We caused them some problems and looked bright but we just switched off on two set-pieces.”

Next up for the Saints is a trip to Southern League Premier Central side Kings Langley in the semi-final of the Herts FA Senior Challenge Cup tomorrow night.