Malvern Town hit the ground running with five-goal romp

Malvern Town hit the ground running with five-goal romp

Malvern Town hit the ground running with five-goal romp

First published in Sport

MALVERN Town made a stunning West Midlands League Premier Division start with a 5-0 romp at Cradley Town.

The visitors were without Reece King (suspended), Dave Reynolds, Louis Loader and Jamie Thomas (injured) and James Lush (unavailable) on the opening day.

However, Town showed their squad strength this season as summer signings Bryan Craven (2), Jake Hollylee and Sam Rathbone blasted them to victory alongside an own goal.

But Les Jones' side began the first 20 minutes slowly and were grateful to an early save by new keeper Niall Hacking from Ryan Edwards.

A few minutes later, Cradley's Daniel Edwards picked up the ball on the halfway line and weaved his way through into the box only to fire wide.

A Cradley cross-shot from the left on 18 minutes was tipped onto the post by Hacking as the hosts continued to press.

But Malvern hit back and Lee Hooper crossed into the area but Joe Leighton just failed to get his head on the ball.

In the 25th minute. Bryan Craven chested the ball down, turned and volleyed just over from 20 yards to give a taste of what was to come.

Malvern piled on the pressure and Harry Wickett's shot was blocked by a defender.

Craven shot just wide but then had a stroke of luck for the opening goal when, looking offside, he raced to the edge of the box and beat onrushing keeper Dominic Hill.

A corner from the busy Craven was headed on by Wickett across the box but Hooper could not provide a finish.

Malvern won a 40th-minute free-kick and Hooper’s 30-yard strike hit the bottom of the post.

A minute later, a Malvern throw-in was played back to Hollylee, who turned and volleyed the second goal into the far corner of the net.

Town were three up a minute before half-time when Hollylee’s shot was deflected into his own net by Cradley's Ian Millward.

Malvern midfielder Kirk Layton was denied a goal early in the second period for offside and then Wickett's dangerous delivery just lacked a final touch.

Hacking bravely dived for the ball on 55 minutes at the other end and received a kick on the head for his troubles with the resulting goal-bound effort disallowed.

Rathbone replaced Harry Wickett and quickly crossed for Hollylee, whose shot was diverted for a corner.

Malvern had the ball in the net but it was disallowed after Hollylee's cross hit Craven on the hand.

The visitors missed a golden opportunity on 68 minutes when Hooper fired a penalty wide after Hollylee was brought down following a poor goal-kick by Hill. Hollylee had to come off injured on 72 minutes to be replaced by Matthew Turner as Malvern continued to impress.

Hooper shot just wide after fine one-touch football from Town.

But the fourth goal finally arrived 10 minutes from time when Rathbone weaved his way down the left, crossing for Turner to lay back and Craven tapped in his second.

Defender Joe Endacott put in a block to ensure Malvern kept a clean sheet.

Substitute Rathbone continued to shine on 83 minutes, completing the scoring after rounding his man and slotting home.

Layton's shot was blocked by the over-worked defence as Town finished a promising first match strongly.

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