HIGH-flying Worcestershire rivals Malvern Town and Bewdley Town could not be separated in their West Midlands League Premier Division clash.

A controversial, last-minute Bewdley penalty made Malvern pay for their missed chances in the first half which could have put the game out of reach.

Ultimately, the 1-1 draw was probably the right result ahead of the HDanywhere Community Stadium side's visit to 15th-placed AFC Bridgnorth on Saturday (3pm).

Malvern are two points off the top in fourth spot with Bewdley one position and three points behind them.

Missing midfielder Phil Harris and defender Dene Whittal-Williams due to illness, the hosts started brightly and went ahead in the sixth minute.

The ball was played out to Kyonn Evans on the left and he pulled it back for recent signing Joshua Hunt to side-foot home.

Two minutes later, Evans ran half the length of the pitch but shot just wide.

Lewis Platt motored up the left a minute later and crossed for Evans who pulled the ball back to Shaun Smith on the edge of the box and he fired straight at keeper Joe Sidaway.

Bewdley had their first decent shot in the 12th minute when a low cross from the right was well saved by keeper Charlie Weaver who then smothered the loose ball.

Hunt sent a first-time drive wide from Matt Turner's pass before Malvern went even closer to a second goal on 28 minutes.

Turner's effort was deflected to Harry Wickett and his shot was weak but still squirmed under the keeper’s body and had to be cleared off the line by a defender.

Bewdley had another narrow escape two minutes later as Turner's shot following a free-kick grazed the outside of the post.

Having weathered the storm for the first half-hour, the visitors came back into the game and a free-kick by Aaron Griffiths in the 34th minute was pushed onto the post and wide by Weaver.

In the 40th minute, Griffiths took a shot from 35 yards and with the swirling wind in his favour brought another eye-catching save from Weaver.

From the resulting corner, a low kick evaded everyone at the near post and fell to Luke Morris who blasted well over the bar.

Malvern began on the attack in the second period with Turner firing just wide of the back post after running into the box from Kyle Belmonte's pass.

A shot from Evans was pushed out to Hunt who directed his follow-up wide on 55 minutes.

But three minutes later Adam Sauntson had to clear off the Malvern line to keep the hosts' lead intact.

At the other end, Lewis Platt demanded a good save from Sidaway on the hour mark after breaking into the area.

Wickett cleared off the line to deny Bewdley a second time but their county rivals were to punish Malvern late on.

Weaver came out and appeared to push the ball but the forward fell over and the referee immediately awarded a penalty.

Griffiths, who has also played for Worcester City this season, stepped up and fired the ball into the top left-hand corner.

Malvern's under 21s host Westfield Reserves in the Herefordshire FA County League Premier Division on Saturday (2pm).