A man down in five minutes, two goals in arrears inside 20 minutes, and still St Albans City should not have come away from The Meadow empty handed on Bank Holiday Monday as Chesham United clung on for a desperate 2-1 Southern League victory.
As bizarre as it may seem but the Saints will probably take greater belief that they are at the embryonic stage of building something good from this match than from Saturdayâ€™s destruction of a lifeless Frome Town.
Chesham, as they were last season, are likely to be one of the contenders for promotion but looked distinctly ordinary as the ten men from Clarence Park dominated, particularly during the second half, to such a ridiculous degree that the corner count was 11-0 in favour of the visitors.
But City have only themselves to blame for their numerical disadvantage after seeing muscular central defender Curtis Ujah dismissed for an ugly and high lunge on Cheshamâ€™s two-goal hero Dave Fotheringham.
Just to rub insult into injury the whistle had blown for a free kick in St Albans favour just as Ujah, having won the ball off Simon Thomas, launched into the unfortunate Fotheringham.
City had no complaints regarding the decision of referee Wes Linden to dismiss Ujah but a number of other decisions by the Northwood-based official did not go down well with the visitors.
Both sides went into the match unbeaten after the opening three games and playing down the Meadow slope with a wind behind them St Albans, even without the injured Sean Shields, would have fancied gaining a first half lead.
Such thoughts vanished following Ujahâ€™s early departure Ryan Watts, in for Shields, dropped from the left of midfield to left-back with Danny Gordon moving inside to partner James Gray. While Richard Graham switched from the right midfield flank to the left.
Chesham, at least for a while, exploited their advantage patiently and positively by getting left-back Danny Braithwaite to move forward almost with impunity to attack the exposed Chris Seeby.
Twice Chesham almost broke through the middle of the City defence with well directed balls up to Thomas and Michael Chennells and it was of little surprise when the home side went ahead on nine minutes with Fotheringham sending a soft effort wide of the diving Nick Jupp from 12 yards.
Cityâ€™s future looked increasingly bleak on 20 minutes when Chesham added a well-constructed second goal.
Fotheringham and Braithwaite linked up before United skipper Danny Talbot â€“ in his 250th game for the club â€“ slid a good ball up to James Potton.
Potton twisted past Seeby and clipped a delightful ball to the back post where Simon Thomas headed against the woodwork with the rebound bouncing nicely into the path of Fotheringham who took careful aim to fire wide of Danny Gordon and James Gray and into the goal.
A massacre appeared to be developing but the tactic of City manager David Howell not to withdraw a striker and go for all out damage limitation proved to be spot-on as City, slowly at first, began to impose themselves on the game.
Graham, who had an excellent afternoon, chipped a good ball into the home penalty area that saw keeper Shane Gore clatter into Lewis Toomey as Cityâ€™s top scorer bore down on goal, but with Gore having won the ball before the duo clashed there was no question of a penalty being awarded.
City striker Barry Hayles attracted no lack of comment from home supporters having appeared for Chesham pre-season and a loud jeer ensured as the bustling forward, again teed up by Graham, fired a good opportunity out of the ground.
Chesham also fluffed a decent opportunity when Potton fired tamely through to Jupp from Braithwaiteâ€™s cross.
St Albans, having been told by Howell during the interval that their performance was of greater importance than the result, played with remarkable assurance after the break and only a diving Gore denied Hayles a quick breakthrough.
But Cheshamâ€™s growing unease was exposed on 51 minutes when Potton, with a tackle that was clumsy rather than malicious, tripped Graham.
Toomey, for once not shackled by two defenders, swept the spot kick to Goreâ€™s right to notch his sixth goal in just five games this season.
On the whole St Albans played a passing game and Chesham were left hoping to grab something on the break.
And they almost did through former Saint Chris Watters who seized upon a scuffed clearance by Jupp outside the penalty area and sent an opportunist effort a handful of inches over the crossbar.
What should have been a straightforward three points for Chesham was starting to go badly awry and numbers were hauled back to block shots on Goreâ€™s goal.
In fact Chesham defended so stoutly City had few clear openings but Micah Hyde did force Gore into a full length save and the one-time St Albans custodian also did well to palm over the top a fine header from 15 yards by City captain Gray.
Several times the ball flashed in front of the home goal but this was not to be Cityâ€™s day as their unbeaten run ended and Chesham climbed to second in the Premier Division table.
But make no mistake, this St Albans side has more than enough time and quality to bush off this unfortunate setback.