MALVERN Town ended their pre-season programme with a heavy defeat at the hands of Shifnal Town on Tuesday evening.

Harry Clark and Matt Turner got their names on the scoresheet in what was another worthwhile work-out and manager Lee Hooper admits it was a difficult result to get his head around.

“It was a strange one as it didn’t feel like a 5-2 game,” he said.

“We made a slow start and found ourselves under pressure from the off. Before we could get to grips with the game we were already two goals down and whilst we managed to get the ball in some good areas as the first half went on, we failed to create any clear-cut chances.

“We did manage to pull a goal back just before the interval, which was a good response as it would have been easy for the lads to go hiding.

“We showed good character to come out and be the better team in the second period; we deserved more than the one goal that we got in the second half and had we managed to get back on level terms during this period, it would have been deserved.

“A late goal on the counter for our hosts as we were pushing forward sealed it for them as the game then became scrappy.

“We can learn a lot from this game, which is what it is all about at this stage, and we’ll also take the positives from it into the new season.”

Malvern will begin their 2021/22 Hellenic League Premier Division campaign in August, their first season at Step 5.

They had been denied the promotion their form over the last two years had warranted due to the impact coronavirus has had on non-league football.

Both the 19/20 and 20/21 campaigns were declared null and void, with Malvern the best team in the Hellenic League One (Step 6) over that time.

But after The FA restructured the league systems between Steps 4 and 6, Town were finally granted promoted into the Premier Division.

Lee Hooper, who is now the sole man in charge after Dene Whittal-Williams stepped down from his position as co-manager, will be hoping his side can make a strong start to the season after what has been an overall encouraging summer.

Town had won four of their five opening pre-season games and enjoyed stand-out victories over the likes of Stourport Swifts and Evesham United.

But since then they have endured two chastening defeats at Bewdley Town and Shifnal earlier this week, which will have acted as a reality check and a reminder that nothing comes easy in non-league football.

The early part of the 2021/22 campaign looks challenging; with Town playing away throughout the entirety of August, including tough games against Bishops Cleeve and Westfields, whom they play in the opener on Tuesday.

But Hooper's men have shown they mean business and proved last season in the FA Vase run that they can more than compete at this level.

An exciting time for The Hillsiders and their fans, who knows what might be in store come April time next year.