MALVERN Town’s trip to Dudley Town this weekend has become a ‘must-win’, says manager Les Jones.
Town suffered their first league defeat since October when a disastrous last 15 minutes sent them to a 3-1 home loss against Ellesmere Rangers.
The Hillsiders remain top of the West Midlands League Premier Division but Tividale – their opponents a week on Tuesday – and Wolverhampton Sporting have the games in hand to go clear.
It means they cannot afford any slip-ups at relegation battling Dudley.
“We’ve got to put in a performance this Saturday,” said Jones.
“We’ve got to bounce back. It’s a must-win.
“We’ve got to be on the front foot from the first minute.”
Malvern had taken the lead against Ellesmere, with Kyonn Evans slotting home from Louis Loader’s pass early in the second half.
They had further chances to seal the points but they were made to pay when a blunder at the back presented Karl Bailey to level on 74 minutes.
Then Anwar Olugbon and Bailey pounced again to complete a league double for the Shropshire visitors.
Jones hopes to have Dene Whittal-Williams and Phil Harris back to face Dudley after their absences through illness and unavailability last week.
“A combination of quality and patience will be the key against Dudley,” said Jones.
“They will be battling for their lives and we need to make sure we don’t leave ourselves open to a sucker-punch like we did last week.
“We created chances, seven or eight, but didn’t take them.
“If we had got the second goal, that would have killed the game.
“To lose in the way we did was the probably the most disappointing result of the season.”