MALVERN Town still missing several key players through injury, gave a much improved performance at Heath Hayes on Saturday, but a 65th minute strike enabled the home side to claim all three Express and Star Premier Division points.


Town recalled Sean Cotterill to the defence and there was a first team debut for teenage full back Mark Taylor. Also, in order to shore up a defence that conceded five goals at home to Ledbury last Tuesday and three during the second half at Shawbury the previous Saturday, Malvern played five in midfield, leaving 16-year-old Lee Hooper as the sole striker.

On a difficult and heavy pitch Town's tactics seemed to be succeeding as the home side rarely threatened Dave Alden's goal and in a first half of few chances it was Neil Mogford who came closest to breaking the deadlock when he was denied by an excellent save.

The second period carried on in a similar vein, but Town should have taken the lead in the 62nd minute.

Neil Mogford broke clear on the right, squared the ball to Hooper, who only had the Heath Hayes keeper to beat from virtual point blank range, but the young striker failed to get any power into his shot and the ball was easily gathered.

Town paid a heavy price three minutes later, when Sean Davies missed a tackle just outside his area and the ball was played in behind a wrong-footed defence, to set up a home forward for a clinical finish.

Town then introduced Barry Hughes, another teenage striker, to accompany Hooper, and an equaliser always looked likely.

First Hughes set up Thomas, but the wingers strike flashed across the face of the goal, and then both Hughes and Mark Brooks failed to effectively pull the trigger when well placed.

And with just two minutes remaining Mogford found himself at the far post with the goal at his mercy, but his well struck shot just cleared the crossbar when a goal appeared inevitable.

Town paid a heavy price for passing up these opportunities as the home side held on to secure the points.

Town assistant manager Richard Anson said: "It probably was not a great game to watch as we went out with the intention of not conceding and hoping we would pinch a goal from somewhere, to be fair our tactics worked for the most part and we have no issues with the effort we put in, but it wasn't to be.

"However, unlike the Ledbury game there were things we could take out of it, not least the performance of Mark Taylor who was excellent on his debut."