JOINT-boss Dene Whittal-Williams acknowledged Malvern Town would “feel the expectation” having been shifted to the Hellenic League.

The Hillsiders finished fourth in West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division but discovered on Sunday that they would be transferred south to Hellenic Division One West.

There are just 14 teams in the provisional line-up of with four promotion places opened up to all leagues at that level next season as part of an FA reshuffle.

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It means Town is set to join a league that has historically struggled to fill spaces, sucking in Hereford Lads Club, Wellington and Pegasus Juniors this summer too.

The lack of numbers means two teams – Tytherington Rocks and New College Swindon – stayed up despite only registering three points each last term, prompting talk of the move making promotion easier for Malvern, but Whittal-Williams is taking nothing for granted.

“We are indifferent about it,” he said.

“We have been in the West Midlands (Regional) League for years and had we stayed that knowledge would have been a positive. More games may have been attractive too but generally, we are positive about moving across.

“In terms of the standard, who knows? In the West Midlands you know it will be a battle wherever you go and that pitches can be hit and miss.

“A different league will bring different outlooks and ways of playing, that’s the bit we are not familiar with yet and have to be mindful of and prepare for.

“If people are putting us on a pedestal, people may see games with us as key which will make things a lot harder.

“We are looking forward to it but there is no complacency at all, nothing is a given.

“Our standards need to be high next season, we know we will feel the expectation but I think we are better placed to manage that. We know the lads and ourselves far better.

“There are pros and cons to everything but we are happy and positive about the move, as we would have been had we stayed where we were.”

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The shift does bring its challenges with the 14 clubs currently in the line-up covering no fewer than five counties – Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.

“We have been in communication with the lads who have agreed to stay and none have come back with concerns about the travelling,” added Whittal-Williams.

“There are bigger distances but then there are fewer games. Bigger distances for midweek games can put off players but looking at the past it seems like there will be less night matches anyway.

“Most lads are geared up to play on a Saturday, an extra half an hour to somewhere like Kidlington should not be a massive issue.

“Recruiting lads from farther north, the Black Country area, would have been an issue but we have not looked at that area so far because we did not know where we would end up.

“We have grown up playing for Malvern and historically, all of our derbies have been against the likes of Pegasus, Lads Club and other Hereford-based teams. The rivalries came from over the hill.

“It is good that we are bringing those with us, Lads Club and Wellington are going to come with good squads like they have always had and no doubt this will help Pegasus with their recruitment.”