MALVERN Town's management duo of Lee Hooper and Stephen Cleal reflected on what has been a successful first season back at Step 5.

Having been promoted last season, Malvern's 4-3 win on the final day against Brimscombe and Thrupp meant they finished the 2021/22 campaign in third place, which is their joint second best finish in their history.

Despite sitting in second before Christmas and promotion very much a realistic possibility, a dip in form to start 2022 saw them fall away and eventually fell just short.

But winning nine of their final 10 league games has seen them rocket back up the table and boss Hooper is happy with that.

"Yes it was disappointing to have that poor run but little things went against us," he said.

"Decisions, runs of play, things not going for us but that's football. We were second before Christmas and we were flying.

"But we have come out the other end now in third place and at the start of the season, if we had been offered that, we would have taken it and it would represent a good season."

And his comments were echoed by his assistant Cleal.

"Of the last 36 points we have got 34 of them and that isn't a bad return," he added.

"It shows what we can do when we try and apply ourselves. It was important to finish strongly and in the last 10 games we have been superb.

"We will have learnt a lot from this season but it will only stand us in good stead come next season."

But the season is not over quite yet for Malvern, who have the Smedley Crooke Final to play in May against Pershore Town.

"Of course, Pershore are doing really well," admitted Hooper.

"They are on that wave. We have watched them a couple of times and we know what they're about but we back ourselves against anyone."

"The difficult things for us is that we have three weeks to wait without a game before the game comes so they might have the advantage but we just have to keep focussed for three weeks and make sure we're ready and prepared."