MALVERN Town slipped to their first West Midlands League Premier Division away defeat of the season with a 1-0 reverse at fellow high-fliers Wolverhampton Casuals.

The visitors' midfield was decimated with six regular squad members missing through suspension, work, injury and other commitments.

Defeat leaves fourth-placed Malvern six points behind Casuals in third but with two games in hand.

Malvern started strongly and after three minutes Matt Turner could not quite reach Dave Reynolds' left-wing cross.

Turner had several efforts at goal when Adam Sauntson knocked down Bryan Craven's 10th-minute corner but Casuals cleared.

The hosts got more into the game and hit the bar before taking the lead on 23 minutes as Ben Podmore headed in an inswinging corner.

Harry Clark fired wide for Malvern in the second half but their keeper Charlie Weaver had to pull off some fine saves at the other end.

Town could have levelled five minutes from time but Turner fired over a golden chance.

“The lads worked hard and adapted well to a change of shape due to six players being unavailable,” said co-manager Lee Hooper.

“We started well and had early chances to take the lead but weren’t clinical enough when it mattered.

“We fell behind when a header from a corner squeezed just inside the post.

“Our hosts created a few chances during the remainder of the first half and put us under pressure in spells but going in at the break a goal down we were confident we could get something out of the game.

“We knew that with so many attacking players in the side we would create chances and we did cause problems in the final third.

“That said, Charlie also had to be alert at the other end to make some decent saves.

“Our big chance came with five minutes to go when we fired over from a good position within the six-yard box.

“A draw would have been a fair result but it was not to be on this occasion and now we must regroup and be ready for the trip to Shifnal (on Saturday, 3pm) as we look to take maximum points from our final games.

“The lads can be pleased with the shift they put in against a strong Casuals side and it was pleasing to see we have such strength in depth despite being without so many players.”

Malvern host Quorn in the Smedley Crooke Cup semi-finals next Tuesday (7.45pm).

Malvern: Weaver, Smith (Fusco 73), Wickett, A Sauntson (Noke 74), J Sauntson, Craven, Hayes, Reynolds, Evans, Turner, Clark. Subs not used: Salacinski, Whittal-Williams, Hooper.