St Albans City climbed up to 19th in the National League South table on Saturday, after beating Braintree Town 1-0 away from home.

The National League anleagu nounced on Friday that all three of their divisions would be continuing as normal for the time being, despite all Premier League and EFL matches suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, meaning the Saints travelled to Essex to continue their push to avoid the drop.

An own goal by Braintree’s Arthur Lontton in the first-half was enough for the visitors to see off their fellow relegation candidates and lift themselves two points and two places away from the bottom two.

St Albans started the game positively and ought to have had the chance to score from the penalty spot in the early stages when Joe Icaiofano’s shot was blocked by the arm of Lontton, but the referee instead awarded a corner, despite being stood close to the incident.

A goal almost came from the resulting set piece, with Watford loanee getting on the end of the out-swinging delivery, only to fire over the bar from the edge of the area.

The deadlock was broken just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark when some tenacious midfield work by Lewis Gordon saw the Saints wrestle possession away from Braintree in the centre, before working it out to Tom Bender on the right.

His cross into the centre found Iaciofano lurking in the six yard box, whose shot was pushed out by Braintree keeper Billy Johnson, but rebounded back over the line off the legs of Lontton.

St Albans maintained their pressure and almost built on their lead immediately with Frankie Musonda climbing highest from a corner, only to glance his header wide of the post.

After setting up a goal for the Saints, Bender almost gifted Braintree one at the other end before the first-half had finished, when his lazily attempted clearance span into the path of Darelle Russell, who combined well with Jordan Chiedozie, but headed wide from the resulting cross.

Captain and assistant coach Steve Sheehan was similarly wasteful from a set piece moments later, when he nodded over from Jack Smith’s searching cross from the right hand side, despite being completely unmarked.

The away side finished the half strongest and were only prevented from doubling their advantage before the break by some goalkeeping heroics by Johnson.

First the keeper did well to deny Bender’s rasping drive from a tight angle before producing an acrobatic dive to his left to keep out Iaciofano’s penalty just moments later.

Iaciofano was again prevented from scoring by Johnson at the end of the half, this time with an outstretched leg, as the keeper kept Braintree just about in the game.

The entertainment of the first-half was far from matched by a second in which both sides struggled to produce anything better than half chances.

David Longe-King came the closest to putting the ball into a net, when he diverted a Braintree cross past Dean Snedker, but fortunately for him, it trickled wide of the mark and went out for a corner kick.

The Saints will face Dulwich Hamlet next weekend, should National League matches still be going, however the league has stated that it will “keep the operation of its competition under constant and diligent review” it could be a matter of time before games are postponed, as they have been in many other leagues throughout the country already.