MALVERN Town slipped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Stonehouse Town on a wet afternoon at the HDAnywhere Community Stadium on Saturday.
The first chance came after eight minutes when a free-kick out wide was delivered to the far post where Adam Sauntson almost turned the ball home.
Moments later a well-timed challenge denied Matt Pinder as he was about to pull the trigger.
There was a real let-off for the visitors after 19 minutes when Matt Pinder nipped in to round the keeper but somehow the covering defender was able to clear off the line.
It was the visitors who took the lead just past the half-hour mark when Chris Pinder did well to save the initial effort but he was powerless to stop the follow-up from close range.
With the bit between their teeth, the visitors forced a save at his near post from Pinder shortly afterwards.
A great turn and cross from Harry Clarke picked out Matt Fusco who saw his two efforts blocked in front of goal as the visitors scrambled clear in what proved to be the last action of the opening period.
With 55 minutes on the clock, a free-kick from Aaron Griffiths caused problems for the keeper on the wet surface as he gathered at the second attempt.
Stonehouse doubled their advantage on the hour mark when a low ball was delivered invitingly into the danger zone before being swept home.
Matt Turner was on hand to reduce the arrears on 70 minutes only for the visitors to score straight from the restart to make it 3-1.
Malvern had plenty of the ball in the closing stages as a strike from George Watkins was blocked before Chris Parker put the rebound over.
The same player then tried his luck with a low strike which had the sting took out of it by a deflection.
There was a great chance for the visitors right at the death as they broke the offside trap but fired wide as it ended in a 3-1 defeat.
Joint-boss Lee Hooper said: “We started slowly and never really got going in the first half.
“We struggled to adapt to the conditions and with nine or ten first-team players missing, it was always going to be tough for our young side.
“The second half saw us get on top and we created chances, but it just wouldn’t fall for us.
“When we pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to go, it looked like we might get back into it but they scored straight away and it knocked the stuffing out of us.”
Malvern play host to Littleton in their final pre-season game tomorrow (Tuesday).
“We’ll use the game against Littleton to iron a few things out and get back on the ball so that we are ready to hit the ground running on Saturday when the action gets underway for real,” added Hooper.