BEN Hayes took his season tally to 15 as his double helped Malvern Town to a 3-1 win over Tuffley Rovers to inch ever closer to a post-season play-off spot. 

Harry Clark's 15th-minute penalty, Malvern's 100th goal of the season, put the hosts ahead before Dave Reynolds' fumbled shot was tapped home by Hayes to double their advantage.

Malvern did briefly switch off on the half-hour mark as keeper Keiron Blackburn punched a loose ball into the path of Ryan Dobbins, who turned the ball home from a couple of yards to reduce the deficit.

Relegation-threatened Tuffley searched for the equaliser and an unlikely point but Malvern put the game to bed mid-way through the second period as the in-form Hayes bundled home Lewis Platt's low cross.

Malvern Gazette: Ben Hayes just about gets the ball over the line for 3-1.Ben Hayes just about gets the ball over the line for 3-1. (Image: Cliff Williams)

Malvern are now three games away from securing second-place in the Hellenic Premier and the three points does close the gap on league leaders Cribbs to two points, although Richard Luffman's side still have a game in hand.

A second-placed finish will see Malvern grab a play-off spot and a chance to gain promotion to Step 4 and went into the clash with Tuffley knowing that winning all four of their remaining fixtures would get the job done. 

And they started well on Saturday, dominating the early stages before Reynolds was fouled in the box after just 15 minutes of play.

Forward Clark's penalty was not the best and Tuffley's keeper Luke Merchant did get a hand to it but the ball found it's way into the back of the net and Malvern were 1-0 up.

Malvern Gazette: Harry Clark puts Malvern 1-0 up from the penalty spotHarry Clark puts Malvern 1-0 up from the penalty spot (Image: Cliff Williams)

Given their respective places in the league table, most would have expected Malvern to go on and rack up a big score, which looked even more likely when Hayes was on hand to tap the ball over the line when Merchant fumbled Reynolds' effort.

Malvern Gazette: Ben Hayes puts Malvern 2-0 upBen Hayes puts Malvern 2-0 up (Image: Cliff Williams)

But Tuffley were offered a lifeline just after the half-hour as returning Malvern keeper Blackburn could only punch a loose ball back into the danger zone and Dobbins tucked the ball into the empty net to halve the deficit.

There were chances at both ends as the game moved into the second-half and Dobbins continued to threaten on the counter-attack for Tuffley. 

But any chance of a comeback were ended on the hour as Platt's inviting ball into the Rovers box was bundled in by winger hayes, who has now scored five goals in his last three league matches.