Missed chances cost St Albans City dearly on Monday as Chelmsford City ended their run of four National League South defeats when taking a point back to Essex following an entertaining 1-1 draw at a cloudy Clarence Park.
Eddie Oshodi heads to put City 1 up.
In fairness to Mark Hawkesâ€™ Clarets, Chelmsford too had opportunities to claim victory but St Albans could have made the game safe long before the visitors grabbed a late equaliser.
Harry Wheeler, Cityâ€™s caretaker-manager, is proving himself to be unafraid of making major changes with the starting line-up seeing four alterations from Saturdayâ€™s dismal showing at Bishopâ€™s Stortford.
Leading goalscorer Louie Theophanous found himself relegated to the bench for only the second time since his summer move from Farnborough, and fellow forwards Billy Gibson and Harry Crawford also paid the price for Saturdayâ€™s flop.
Long-serving defender Ben Martin was also denied a run out against one of his former clubs, but this had more to do with the two games in three days putting a stress on his 33-year-old battle-weary body.
Darren Locke returned to the middle of the Saints defence after playing in just one of the previous six games, and gave an excellent performance alongside Jorell Johnson.
The attack had a completely new look with Peterborough United loanee Jonathan Edwards being given his first start.
Kevin Krans was back in the starting XI for the first time in a month while Jernade Meade was also given a recall.
Chelmsford made two changes to arrest their recent slide and protect a good record at the Park that had seen then beaten just once in their ten most recent visits.
Gaining just one point from their previous two games had sent St Albans back down to 21st in the table but their long struggle as a bottom three side bore no relation to an encouraging performance.
City, attacking the bottom, Hatfield Road, goal pressed for an early breakthrough.
After just three minutes former Claret Sam Corcoran fired wide as the visitors struggled to clear a City corner, three minutes later and the home side should have been ahead.
Edwards, sent away down the right by James Comley, got the better of Chelmsford skipper Rory McAuley and darted into the penalty area from a wide position.
Edwards guided a superb low pass across the six yard box that bisected â€˜keeper Tim Brown, and defender Mark Haines, only for Krans to be denied a certain goal when the ball hit a divot and bounced between his legs, as he shaped for a simple tap in.
Krans, however, retrieved the ball and pulled it towards the edge of the penalty area where Corcoran â€“ scorer of two spectacular efforts during December â€“ had a shot deflected over for a corner.
Krans was next to see a shot sail over the top with a powerful volley after a Comley corner had been only partially headed away.
Chelmsford eased the pressure on their goal when, on 16 minutes, a Luke Daley cross from the right found Billy Hunt but he was denied a goal on his first start when outnumbered by Johnson and Eddie Oshodi.
For the remainder of the half the attacking intent was supplied by the home side.
Edwards, after having a shot blocked and then smothered by Brown, found Meade with an excellent angled through ball that looked destined to produce a goal until Marvin Ekpiteta stretched to put in a last-ditch tackle that helped get the ball back to his keeper.
Still City pressed for the opening goal with Edwards heading over from an Oshodi cross and Krans, fed by ex-Claret Tom Bender, testing Brown with a long range effort.
But on the half hour it was Chelmsford who so nearly took the lead with a freak goal.
Long throw expert Bagasan Graham arrowed the ball from the Clarets left towards Billy Bricknell at the near post, it appeared to elude the striker but clip the hand of City keeper Joe Welch.
The ball looked set to enter the goal between the apex of post and crossbar before Lee Chappell pulled off an astonishing leap that saw him kick the ball from almost seven feet up in the air and onto the underside of the crossbar.
Bricknell was just unable to head the rebound home and a somewhat relieved Welch swooped to end the danger as Ekpiteta moved in for the kill.
St Albans did get the ball into the net on 40 minutes following an impressive build up only for Edwards, whose shot beat Brown at his near post, to be ruled offside from Oshodiâ€™s pass into the penalty area.
Undeterred, City came back once more a minute later and belatedly forged ahead.
Much of the credit for the goal goes to Chappell who ran at some speed to rescue a crossfield ball from Comley before it could run out of play.
The City skipper then laid the ball back to Bender and from his perfect out-swinging cross to the back post, right-back Oshodi dived in behind Ekpiteta to head home his second goal in three days.
City ought to have taken a two-goal lead into the break when Corcoran sent Edwards through the middle but, after turning McAuley inside out, the striker shot straight at Brown who was able to save with his legs.
Chelmsford made one change during the interval with Lee Sawyer coming on for former Boreham Wood player Matthew Whichelow; St Albans were unchanged.
The second half saw a transformation in fortunes with Chelmsford keeping the Saints penned into their own half for long stretches, but with an outstanding defensive display City appeared capable of gaining revenge for the defeat suffered at Melbourne Park back in August.
Chelmsford gave notice of what was to come when a fierce drive by Bricknell was deflected over for a corner off the head of Locke.
From a similar position to Bricknell â€“ to the right of Welchâ€™s goal â€“ Graham fired low to Welchâ€™s left only for the keeperâ€™s outstretched left foot to divert the ball over for a corner.
City had a chance to kill off Chelmsfordâ€™s fightback when Corcoran sent Meade scurrying down the right flank.
Edwards made a good run into the penalty area but Meade, most bizarrely, opted to cross with his left foot when a right-footed cross was required, and sent the ball tamely through to the keeper.
Almost immediately the action returned to the opposite end where Welch, whose handling at crosses was immaculate throughout, pulled off a fine tip over when the unmarked Graham headed on a Sawyer free kick.
Again though St Albans hit back with Oshodi marauding down the right to good effect.
The former Forest Green Rovers defender teed up Corcoran for a shot into the York Road terrace before sending a low pass into the penalty area that was missed by Theophanous and bounced wide of the goal via the knee of a surprised Edwards.
A long throw from the City left by Chappell caused more problems for the visitors.
Oshodi retrieved the ball on the opposite wing and played it inside to Corcoran who eased it on to Theophanous. Cityâ€™s top scorer turned swiftly but his shot from 20 yards sailed just over the goal.
Two minutes later, the 78th, much of Cityâ€™s good work was undone as Chelmsford plundered an equaliser.
From a throw by Graham on the Clarets right, just in front of the Andyâ€™s Snacks burger van, Locke jumped with Ekpiteta at the near post and, almost inadvertently, looped a header towards the back post where Bricknell got wide of Comley and stretched to scoop a left-footed shot into the net for his 11th goal of the season.
In the time remaining both sides could have struck a winning blow.
For City, Edwards, following a Comley corner, had a header saved low down by Brown, while a low cross by Theophanous went just behind fellow substitute Jack Green.
Hunt shot wide for the Clarets before the home goal came under sustained pressure in the final minute following a Sawyer corner that was taken from comfortably outside the arc by the corner flag.
The attack finally broke down when Hainesâ€™ curling shot drifted wide of the home goal.
The draw lifts St Albans one place in the table to 20th but two draws and a defeat from the past three matches has put pressure back on the Saints to defeat Bishopâ€™s Stortford next Saturday (2nd January) to avoid losing touch with the cluster of clubs just above the relegation zone.