MALVERN Town suffered a third Southern League Division One South defeat in a row as 2024 began with a 2-1 loss at Cribbs.

Goals from Reece Hedges and Jacob Brown in the 9th and 11th minute of the game proved decisive as high-flying Cribbs continued their stunning first season back at Step 4 with an 11th win of the 2023/24 campaign.

It was always going to be a tough ask for Malvern against a Cribbs side who are still yet to lose at home this season, and despite a late goal from Ben Hayes, the visitors left the South-West with nothing to show for their efforts.

The pressure all came from the hosts in the opening stages and after surviving early appeals for a penalty, Malvern soon found themselves 1-0 down when Harris Feltham's in-swinging free-kick was headed home by Hedges.

And one quickly became two for Cribbs. A long-ball forward was flicked in behind Malvern's defence by Steven Murray and Brown took a couple of touches before slotting past Josh Bishop in the visiting goal.

Malvern won both games against Cribbs last season, which ended in promotion for both sides from the Hellenic League Premier, but it was now looking a tall order to get anything from the game.

Cribbs were able to sit off and allow the away side plenty of possession in the first-half, but the team in white and maroon were unable to make it count and it was Cribbs who continued to look the more likely to score as the game went into the second-half.

The hosts have the best defensive record in the league this season, conceding just 17 goals, and it was evident as Malvern struggled to break them down.

Jack Watts did have the best effort of the day for Town but he could only fire into the side netting before they did manage to pull one back in the first minute of stoppage time.

A strike from distance came back off the crossbar to Hayes, who tapped home to give some late hope for the travelling supporters, but it was a case of too little, too late in the end as the game ended 2-1.