AN EARLY Aaron Johns goal was the difference in the end as Malvern Town's Buildbase FA Vase dreams ended at the hands of Congleton Town.

Despite having the first foray forward, Town were caught out within the opening minute when a long ball forward set Johns through and he opened the scoring.

The Hillsiders then settled into their stride. A free-kick fell out to George Hayes who fired well over then on the quarter-hour mark, Harry Clark’s teasing cross was scrambled clear.

At the other end, Will Buckley tried his luck but his low strike went well wide of the target.

Town were seeing more of the ball as the opening period went on but were unable to keep hold of it to make things happen as chances were few and far between at either end.

With half-time approaching, Keiron Blackburn saved well to thwart Buckley’s low drive, whilst at the other end, Lewis Platt linked up well with Clark whose cross was gathered by the ‘keeper.

On 44 minutes the ball just wouldn’t fall for Joe Billingham in front of goal as we pushed for a leveller before the break.

The second half started with a raid down the left ending with the ball finding its way to George Hayes whose effort was blocked, whilst a free-kick in a dangerous position out wide was flashed inches wide by Dan Cope for the home side.

With an hour gone, Blackburn gathered comfortably from Cope’s effort before doing well to claim Chris Baker’s powerfully-driven cross.

The visitors continued to push and a series of corners saw Jay Sauntson fail to direct a header goalwards at the far post before Clark went close with a header of his own shortly afterwards.

Joe Billingham had the sting took out of a powerful drive by a deflection and as the ball looped up, the 'keeper was able to claim, then as the pressure continued, Platt saw his inviting cross scrambled clear.

Malvern were asking most of the questions as they searched for a leveller.

Clark’s cross to the near post was cleared just ahead of Matt Turner as the home side got numbers back.

Congleton still caused problems of their own and Blackburn did well to keep out a stinging drive from the lively Buckley.

The game was getting away from Town and they were nearly caught out as Max McCarthy went through only for Jay Sauntson to put in a timely recovery challenge.

Appeals for a penalty when Joe Bates went down were waved away as the game entered stoppage time but it ended in disappointment with a 1-0 defeat.