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Derby delight over Town sees Swan close on leaders
9:00am Wednesday 6th March 2013 in Football
HANLEY Swan are just two points behind the Cheltenham Association League Division Two leaders with a game in hand after a 2-1 victory over local rivals Upton Town.
The hosts put early pressure on the Upton defence with Cathal McTernan forcing a good save from the keeper in the first minute.
Hanley broke the deadlock after 15 minutes when a neat Matt Atkinson through-ball found Jon Palmer whose right-wing cross was volleyed into the bottom corner by McTernan.
The game settled into a typical derby with both sides battling for possession and chances created at both ends.
There was more end-to-end play in the second period before Hanley bagged a crucial second goal with 20 minutes left.
James Beale pressurised the Upton full-back and broke down the left before crossing for McTernan to complete his double.
Palmer had shots well saved and McTernan headed against the bar but Upton did not give up and Luke Kitchen scored from a late freekick past stand-in keeper Andy Smith.
A 3-0 defeat for Malvern Town at high-flying Black Country Rangers in the West Midlands League Premier Division did not reflect their performance.
The Malvern defence was in sparkling form and keeper Ian Hill produced two good saves with his legs before Chris Allen and Joe Endacott cleared efforts off the line.
The visitors’ first chance came in the 24th minute but Rob Cullen could not quite convert Dave Reynolds’ knock-down across the face of goal.
Hill was in good form to deny Andy Price, while Reynolds just missed the target after running onto Jamie Thomas’ pass and beating advancing goalkeeper Jamie Wood.
Allen cleared off the line again before Price put Rangers ahead on 39 minutes after a cross was flicked on.
Reynolds was denied an equaliser before half-time by Wood after intercepting Jamie Hurdman’s short back-pass.
Malvern’s defence of Tim Clarke, Allen, Endacott and Andy Fletcher, together with keeper Hill, were all outstanding.
But Endacott, who probably had his best game of the season, felt his hamstring tighten in the 62nd minute and had to be substituted.
Rangers added a second goal on 71 minutes when Paul Oakley’s shot deflected into the net off substitute Joe Leighton.
With a minute left, Sam Agar’s free-kick went in off Clarke to confirm victory.