A man down in seven minutes, a goal down in eight, and yet St Albans City were still good value in securing a Conference South point from Maidenhead United in an occasionally feisty 1-1 draw at a chilly York Road on Saturday.
St Albans, looking to complete their first double of the season, had problems even before the kick-off when Ian Gayle, suffering from a cold and a suspect hamstring, withdrew close to the start of the game.
Gayleâ€™s place was taken by James Comley, as the City captain made his first starting league appearance since the end of December.
Unfortunately for Comley though, his participation lasted just seven minutes before he was dismissed following an off the ball clash with the former Queens Park Rangers â€“ and many other clubs â€“ striker DJ Campbell.
Comley was accused of putting a hand to Campbellâ€™s face after Campbell too had, allegedly, raised a hand. Campbell was shown a yellow card while Comley, on the advice of linesman David Smart, received a straight red; Cityâ€™s seventh of the season.
In the few minutes played before the dismissal, St Albans had been very much on the front foot and sustained pressure appeared certain to be rewarded with an early goal, as both Michael Malcolm and Sam Corcoran went close.
As it was, Maidenhead opened the scoring from the free kick following Comleyâ€™s departure when Unitedâ€™s leading goal scorer Dave Tarpey, from 20 yards, curled an excellent set piece to the right of the static Joe Welch.
Maidenhead sought to press home their advantage, but other than for a header over the top by Campbell and a close range header by Tarpey that struck Welchâ€™s legs before being cleared, the Magpies struggled to break down a City defence superbly held together by the central pairing of Darren Locke and Omar Beckles.
But as the half moved on City, even with their numerical disadvantage, became the more dominant side.
John Frendo flashed a shot wide and had a second charged down before Cityâ€™s already dismal disciplinary record suffered further blots with bookings for Corcoran â€“ his tenth of the season â€“ and Locke.
Maidenhead, with just one win from their previous ten Conference South matches, surrendered their lead on 35 minutes.
Deâ€™reece Vanderhyde, accidentally, handled the ball some ten yards inside the United half and from the ensuing free kick Chappell launched the ball towards the edge of the home penalty area.
As the ball dropped James Kaloczi, who was in excellent form, clipped the ball into the box with a most unusual back-flick with the heel of his right boot.
As the ball ran to the apex of the six-yard box one-time Maidenhead striker Malcolm slid in to cut the ball low across keeper Elvijs Putnins and inside the far post.
With that goal Malcom became only the 15th player to score in each of his first three games for St Albans.
Maidenhead began the second half pretty much as St Albans did the first in that they made light of the upward slope of the pitch facing them and pressed for a goal.
Tarpey did well on the left and crossed low to Lanre Azeez whose first time shot was kept out by the outstretched leg of Welch, Tarpey seized upon the loose ball but his shot from 10 yards was deflected over by Kaloczi.
Frendo went close to putting the Saints ahead when he latched onto a quick throw from the left and unleashed a long range half volley that Putnins excelled to claw away for a corner.
From Chappellâ€™s corner Kaloczi looped a header towards goal that Putnins again dived at to keep out.
The match took another twist on the hour when Reece Tison-Lascaris, just five minutes after replacing Azeez, lashed out Kaloczi with his left foot after the duo had tussled for the ball, and was promptly dismissed.
City, wisely, sent on Charlie Smith for Corcoran on 65 minutes after the midfielder was given a final warning by referee Ian Cooper.
Steve Wales came on for Frendo at the same time and later collected St Albans third booking of the day.
As the half progressed both the pitch, which was heavy and wet from the start, and the quality of the play both deteriorated rapidly.
Green offered the occasional flash of inspiration before the final ten minutes were lit up by the introduction of the former Bracknell Town teenager Sam Barratt.
After speeding past Howard Hall and forcing Locke into a hasty clearance, the Magpies substitute tried an audacious shot from wide on the left that surprised Welch and dipped only just over the crossbar.
Barratt continued to terrorise the City defence with a well struck free kick that Welch watched carefully and gathered at the second attempt.
Deep into added time Maidenhead mustered one final attempt on the home goal, needless to say it was Barratt who, after holding off two challenges, tested Welch with a firm drive along the rough surface that the City keeper again did well to smother.
Having come through 83 minutes with just ten players City will be satisfied to have ended a run of three consecutive away league defeats but it came at some cost.
When St Albans return to action in a fortnight, on 7 February away to Chelmsford City, Comley will be absent at the start of a three-match ban, while Corcoran will be on the side-lines for two games for reaching ten bookings.