A HAT-TRICK from Mario Vieira saw Malvern Vale overcome Falcons Reserves 4-2 and maintain their lead at the top of Cheltenham Association Football League Division Three.

Dead-ball specialist Vieira notched two free-kicks and a penalty while Anthony Cakebread also got on the scoresheet in the home triumph.

Vale fell behind just a few minutes into the game after Marcin Celmer spilled an initial effort before a Falcons player slammed home the rebound.

This lead did not last long through as Vieira curled a 40-yard free-kick into the top corner.

Vale then got into their rhythm, regularly causing problems down both wings with with Mig Passaro and Cakebread.

Passaro squandered two opportunities after being put through one-on-one with goalkeeper Paul Evans before Cakebread netted.

Cakebread drove into the area before firing the ball into the far corner to put his side 2-1 in front on 21 minutes.

With half an hour gone, Vale won a free-kick just outside the area. Vieira stepped up again and swung his effort around the wall and into the bottom corner.

Nick Jones unselfishly squared to Cakebread minutes later but a Falcons defender managed to get in front to turn the ball away for a corner.

Just five minutes into the second period skipper Jay Jones was sent to the sin-bin for dissent.

This allowed Falcons to become more attacking and pile the pressure back onto Vale.

The away side reduced the deficit when Luke Thomas went through before beating Celmer on 54 minutes.

Even after Jones returned to the field, the game remained fairly tight.

Mig Passaro headed wide after a Cakebread cross before Evans made a double save to deny Matt Strangwood as Vale looked for a fourth.

With five minutes remaining, Cakebread cut into the area before being fouled by Jamie Hopson.

Vieira dispatched the resulting spot-kick to seal his hat-trick and another victory for Vale who remain 10 points clear of second-placed Leckhampton Rovers.

Vale travel to Herefordshire Premier Division side Tenbury United in the quarter-finals of the Worcestershire FA Minor Cup on Saturday (2pm).

Zaqib Hussain bagged a treble and Kristian Richardson and Andre Salgado also scored in Upton Town’s 5-0 win at Newton in Division One.

Saturday sees leaders Upton host Kings and seventh-placed Hanley Swan visit Andoversford (both 2pm).

In Division Four, Malvern Vale Reserves suffered a 2-1 home defeat to FC Lakeside Reserves while Kempsey Corinthians won 2-0 at Tewkesbury Athletic.