MALVERN Athletic moved out of the bottom two of the Midland Combination Division Two with this narrow win against basement-side Kenilworth Wardens at Victoria Park last Saturday and they had to fight back from a half time 3-1 deficit.

MALVERN ATHLETIC 4, KENILWORTH WARDENS 3

Athletic's line up started as it had done the week before with a six man midfield and just Cyril Dowling in the attack, but on the bench were new signing Richard Bird and, returning from a long lay off, left-sided Richard Brookes.

Kenilworth looked the better of the two sides in the opening stages and were rewarded when Shaun Cox found the back of the net with a good effort after 12 minutes.

Marc Lines brought the home side level ten minutes later when he ran through to beat the keeper to the ball and slide the ball home.

This did not deter the visitors and they were back in front three minutes later when Perry ran through a flat defence to slide the ball home. Then in the 29th minute Kenilworth had a player dismissed from the field after bringing Cyril Dowling down when he was clear away with only the keeper to beat, although it must be said Dowling had only just cleared the half way line.

This extra man advantage gave Malvern Athletic little bonus during the rest of the half and the home side struggled to get on top of their game and in fact it was the visitors who increased their lead when Perry slid the ball home at the back post to go 3-1 up at half time.

The second half saw Richard Bird join the attack replacing Andrew Cornes and with the visitors prepared to defend with just ten men Malvern had long spells in the Kenilworth half. But it was not until the 62nd minute that they reduced the arrears and for the second week running this was scored by a bending free kick from central defender Carl Preece.

Richard Bird then equalised when he prodded the ball home at the far post after good work from Julian Langfield and Richard Forde in the 75th minute. Bird then saw his header hit the cross bar from a Nigel Russell header and the same player saw another effort deflect off a defender and keeper Cem Onen make a superb save turning the ball around the post.

But in the 85th minute Athletic were rewarded with the all deciding goal when substitute Danny Kendrick got on the end of another Russell cross to guide the ball home.

Richard Brookes could have increased the lead if his volley had not been well saved by Onen yet again.

Just on the final whistle Kenilworth threatened to get back into the game forcing two corners but keeper Dave Starkey dealt with them comfortably and Athletic collected their valuable points and more importantly moved up above County Sports Reserves.

Team: Starkey, Russell, Preece, Owen, Langfield (Kendrick 80), Cornes (Bird 46), Lines, Penney, Mackenzie (Brookes 72), Forde, Dowling.

Tomorrow (Saturday) Malvern Athletic make the short trip to Worcester to take on County Sports Reserves in a league match another vital game for Athletic who must win to survive in the Division.

Squad: Starkey, Russell, Preece, Owen, Langfield, Brookes, Lines, Penney, Forde, Dowling, Bird, Mackenzie, Kendrick, Cornes, Jordan, Beasley, Llewellyn.