St Albans City’s resolute defence came to the fore again on Saturday to frustrate Eastbourne Borough and provide the platform from which Shaun Jeffers could poach the only goal of the afternoon and propel Ian Allison’s Saints into the top three of National League South with a 1-0 victory.

However, City’s well-worked goal, and two excellent saves by Michael Johnson, aside, it was an uninspiring encounter at Priory Lane with all the accolades going the way of the City defence.

Unfortunately, a lot of blame for a grim 90 minutes also went the way of the Saints as ugly time-wasting tactics made for a frustrating time for those present on the south coast and watching the game online.

That said, City’s record is exceptional. This was their third game in succession against top five opposition and not a goal was conceded in any of them. Also, the Saints' total of 20 points from the opening eight games has been bettered just once since the end of the First World War.

Eastbourne suggested they might break that record with good attacking intent early on, but once St Albans had come through that spell it was not until added time that Johnson was next called upon to keep out a goal-bound shot.

City captain Tom Bender and his opposite number at Eastbourne, Charlie Walker, chatted merrily before the kick off but such goodwill was lacking on seven minutes when former Saint Walker picked up the first booking of the game for a poor late challenge on Solomon Nwabuokei.

A minute later and Eastbourne demonstrated why they have made a good start to the season with a flowing move down their right that led to Dean Cox crossing from close to the touchline.

James Kaloczi, who had a particularly good game, did not deal with the ball well on this occasion and his weak clearance went straight to Greg Luer. But the City defender made amends immediately by heading Luer’s goal-bound shot out for a corner.

City cleared the corner for a throw but were sent straight back onto the back foot following a well-worked routine. Walker helped James Vaughan’s throw on to James Hammond and spun away from Joy Mukena to shoot low from a tight angle only to be denied by the boot of Johnson.

The Yellows' first real threat came on 11 minutes when the again impressive Michael Clark won a header and got the ball inside to Nwabuokei who slipped a good pass up to Jeffers. After evading two challenges, Jeffers saw his right-footed shot thud into the back of Joe Kay and loop just over the home goal.

Inexplicable sloppiness in the Boro defence presented City with a half chance on 20 minutes. Mitchell Dickenson tried a ludicrous back pass from close to the corner flag, Steven James compounded the mess with a poor touch that presented possession to Mitchell Weiss but his ambitious effort from out wide drifted just beyond the back post.

Two minutes later and City closed in on their second win at Priory Lane with a goal that was out of context with the rest of the game.

A patient build-up looked to have been snuffed out when Kay headed away a cross from Bender but Clark was quickly onto the loose ball and fed Munashe Sundire. The former Hemel Hempstead Town player took a touch before sending the ball beyond the back post to the unmarked Zane Banton who carefully cushioned a header into the path of Jeffers. With time aplenty the City striker stroked his seventh goal of the season in from just seven yards out.

Eastbourne responded swiftly with Charley Kendall, on loan from Queens Park Rangers, whipping a low ball across the face of the goal that just eluded Luer and was cleared from the toe of Cox by Nwabuokei as a goal beckoned.

Eastbourne enjoyed a far greater share of the play during the second half but City’s defensive solidity appeared unbreakable.

Mukena did well to clear a low cross for a corner and the resulting set piece was hoisted well over the top by Hammond. Sundire won the ball well in midfield on 57 minutes and sent Weiss away, in clipping the ball past the advancing Franco Ravizzoll, the striker sent the ball wide and appeals for a penalty against the Argentine goalkeeper fell on deaf ears.

A spell of Boro pressure saw Kendall have a shot charged down and Hammond send a soft header wide.

Next it was Eastbourne’s turn to call for a penalty when James Ferry stumbled as he shot under pressure from Mukena but referee Jack Packman was not interested.

Eastbourne were pleased to welcome substitute Chris Whelpdale back after injury and their top scorer lived things up with a volley from outside the penalty area that went over the City goal.

On 82 minutes Whelpdale was, quite inexplicably, shown a yellow card. The Boro striker, fairly, challenged Johnson to a cross from Vaughan and was suddenly confronted by a needlessly irate, and already booked, Johnson.

Somehow, Johnson escaped further punishment while the innocent Whelpdale was booked.

The importance of keeping Johnson on the pitch was underlined two minutes into added time.

Joel Rollinson looked to be penned in by a corner flag on the Boro right but managed to get a cross in towards the near post. Luer pounced and looked certain to have scored with a crisp, angled drive only for Johnson to pull off what will be one of the best saves of the season as he dived to his right to palm the ball over the crossbar.

Eastbourne Borough: F.Ravizzoll, J.Vaughan, J.Kay (C.Lambert 89), J.Ferry, M.Dickenson, S.James, D.Cox, J.Hammond, G.Luer, C.Walker (C.Whelpdale 63), C.Kendall (J.Rollinson 74), subs; D.Blackmore, L.Glover.

St Albans City: M.Johnson, T.Bender, K.Wiltshire (D.Stanley 90), J.Kaloczi, M.Clark (D.Diedhiou 90), S.Nwabuokei, S.Jeffers, Z.Banton, M.Weiss (L.Warner-Eley 90+3), M.Sundire, J.Mukena, subs; C.Onokwai, J.Chidyausiku.