MALVERN Town missed the chance to pull off another memorable festive victory as table toppers AFC Bridgnorth were forced to dig deep to claim a 2-0 win at the HDanywhere Community Stadium.
Almost exactly a year to the day, Les Jones’ side produced one of the biggest shocks of last season when they stunned runaway leaders Lye Town with two goals from James Lush.
But they were unable to repeat that feat at Langland Avenue last Saturday as Liam Armstrong opened the scoring on the 32nd minute before the striker added a second in the dying seconds.
These both came against the run of play, though, as Malvern peppered Bridgnorth’s goal all afternoon as they attempted to finish 2014 on a high.
But Town were unable to find their finishing touch as a host of scoring chances went begging. The first of those came within the opening minute as Sam Rathbone back heeled the ball to Dave Reynolds who whipped in an inviting cross which nobody could get on the end of.
From that moment on, Malvern laid siege on the Bridgnorth goal as Luke Corbett and Reynolds had efforts which went wide, while superb last-ditch defending also stopped them taking the lead.
In the 28th minute, Corbett played the ball to Ben Hayes and just as he was about to pull the trigger, Kevin Buxton produced a brave tackle to clear the ball away.
This piece of defending seemed to inspire the away side who made the most of their first meaningful attack of the game. After making in roads down the left, Armstrong picked up the ball and hit a looping shot into the top corner of the net to give Bridgnorth a surprise 1-0 lead.
Despite the set back, Town still went forward in numbers, but wasteful finishing was letting them down as Reynolds fired straight at keeper Chris Crook before sending another attempt just wide of the near post.
The second half continued in the same vein, with Malvern dominating the league leaders who have suffered just two defeats all season. But they were just doing enough to hang on as Hayes’ cross-come-shot went over the keeper and grazed the crossbar.
This was as close as Malvern came in the second period and with seconds left Bridgnorth killed the game off. Armstrong was once again the scorer as he netted with the final kick of the game to secure his side victory.