MALIGNED, changed but improved – this was more like it from Worcester City.

The four changes to the line-up gave City, still smarting from a pair of damaging defeats against Highgate, a tougher edge with the inclusion of Brad Birch particularly effective.

Birch’s partnership with Nathan Hayward provided the platform for Worcester to dominate and hand strikers Lee Hughes and Dave Reynolds the freedom to cause all sorts of problems.

City were not quick out of the blocks but as the pressure built Swifts began to creak with the hosts deserving of their 19th-minute lead.

Reynolds peeled into the left channel and fired low across keeper Dominic Richards for Hughes to scramble home having dashed to the goal line.

The lead was quickly doubled when an intricate passage of play saw Birch’s burst into the box unceremoniously ended by Myles Newman and although Hughes slammed his penalty at Richards, he tucked the rebound beyond the grounded stopper.

The hat-trick was almost complete minutes later but having been played in by a clever reverse pass from Reynolds, Hughes had his angled low drive cleared off the line by Joel Caines.

The only worry for City was when Alex Perry rolled Jordan Stoddart only to skew well off target and Hughes somehow missed from six yards after more clever play from Reynolds and some fancy footwork from the ex-West Bromwich Albion hotshot.

City stayed on the front foot after half-time with Hughes nipping in and back-heel into the side netting from an impossible angle after Richards had spilled an angled drive from Reynolds.

Stourport steadily loosened Worcester’s stranglehold with Dan Sweeney looking particularly dangerous but it was 3-0 when Jim Hanson cynically took out Jamie Smith just in front of the box with George Forsyth guiding a low 20-yard free-kick inside the near post.

But within three minutes, the visitors had hope when Sweeney’s 20-yard free-kick was parried by Matt Gwynne only for Nick MacPherson to rifle the rebound low into the far corner of the net.

The alarm bells rang when Sweeney’s right-wing cross flew just ahead of Alex Perry a minute later but to their credit, City heeded the warning.

Caines again saved his keeper when Alex Tomkinson and substitute Josh Sarmento combined for the former to have his low shot across goal cleared off the line but the fourth eventually arrived with six minutes left.

Substitute Mark Danks jinked past tiring Stourport captain Sam Beasley before unleashing a low 20-yard shot that beat Richards low to his right.

There was still time for Perry to fire over when perfectly placed and a Forsyth error saw Gwynne out quickly to deny Sweeney but there was no late consolation.

“I was pleased with the result more than anything. We started the game well and on the front foot,” said Snape.

“We were guilty of missing a few chances in areas where I would expect us to score and that probably gave them a lift.

“In the second half we were guilty of taking our foot off the pedal, not quite getting to the ball quickly enough and our final pass let us down at times.

“Lee had the ball in the net a couple of times and was unfortunate with the offside calls, we gave away a sloppy goal which we will look at in the week but we showed character to go and get the fourth.

“The main thing for me was the performance, the lads worked hard for each other. There were certain dips in the game that we will look at in the week but there were lots of positives to take.”