TEN man Malvern Town came within three minutes of a deserved, battling point against Southern League Division One South leaders Wimborne Town on Saturday, only for Harry Baker to score a late winner.

Joe Bullock was sent off after just nine minutes at the HDAnywhere Community Stadium after he was adjudged to have tripped a Wimborne player as he chased a hopeful ball forward.

Despite their bemusement at the decision, The Hillsiders battled away for the next 50 minutes before the league leaders finally made the breakthrough via Jack Lovell.

But their lead lasted all of four minutes as Jordan Annear tucked the ball home.

Malvern dug deep for what would have been a deserved draw but were breached in the 87th minute when Baker swept home in off the post.

"I am gutted for the lads," said Cleal. "We worked ever so hard to get something out of the game but it hasn't happened.

"I am flat but I am happy. They did what we asked them to do over the last few weeks, they have been brilliant and today, again, we went down to ten men and for 80 minutes, we went toe-to-toe with the league leaders and we deserved a point in my opinion."

The game was poles apart from when the two sides last met, with Wimborne running out comfortable 2-0 winners in August.

Malvern have enjoyed a much better run of form in the last two months and despite defeat, Cleal is confident his side are "moving in the right direction".

"There was a total gulf in class when we went up there at the start of the season, and there wasn't today (Saturday)," he added.

"The lads have worked really hard and we are moving in the right direction. To be able to compete with a side like Wimborne is massive.

"Yes, we are gutted, but we have to take the positives out of this one and take it forward."