In the only WMRL Premier Division to survive the weather, in form Malvern and Willenhall served up a treat of attacking football.
The game started badly for the visiting Lockmen when they conceded a controversial second minute penalty. Adrian Dove was tussling with an attacker as they raced into the box when it appeared that The Lockmen full-back had been fetched down but a penalty was awarded instead of the expected defending free-kick. Malvern captain Hooper accepted the gift to send Ben Holden the wrong way from the penalty spot to open the scoring. Kieron Robinson spearheaded the first Reds attack down the left on four minutes. Unfortunately his curling cross found the keeper instead.
The Lockmen forced free-kicks after 11 and 18 minutes but both came to nothing as they recovered well from the early goal. On 24 minutes a fine piece of work from Leon Weller saw him take on and beat two defenders down the right before swinging over a cross that home custodian Chas Weaver just about reached first ahead of two Lockmen players. At the other end Ben Holden produced a superb block with his feet to deny the home side a second goal when Ben Hayes went clean through on goal. He then dropped on the loose ball to prevent further trouble. Malvern won a 32nd minute free-kick but this curled over the cross-bar. Two minutes later and Eddie Wilson put in a fierce effort that was well blocked after good wing play from Leon Weller had set him up. Seven minutes from the break and the visitors deservedly levelled.
Not for the first time the home team conceded a free-kick out on the wing. This time Mikey Robertson curled one towards the far post where it was cleared from the line, however, it dropped perfectly for Wilson to lash into the roof of the net. On 40 minutes Leon Weller again beat his man and produced a cross that flew across the face of goal with nobody able to reach to poke home a goal.
Two minutes later and Willson robbed a dithering defender, cut inside onto his right foot and fired straight at Weaver in the home goal. Sixty seconds later and a run and cross from Wilson saw him force a corner as his shot was deflected behind. Just before the break more fine work between Wilson and Leon Weller set up Jon Ashfall but he was off target with his effort. The second-half started exactly the same as the first, with a Malvern goal two minutes in.
This time Holden started to come for a cross but changed his mind, the defensive header was not executed properly and Hayes was able to fire home when the ball dropped for him close in. Good play at the other end on 51 minutes saw Wilson receive the ball just inside the area but a brave block saw his shot balloon over from the deflection for a corner. When the over hit corner was returned into the box Ashfall flicked goalwards, only to see Weaver grab the loose ball to avert any danger.
Dan Bryson, on as an early sub for the injured Adrian Dove, then saw his flick on from a free-kick hastily cleared from near the goal. The home side were next to attack and from a fine deep cross an unmarked Dave Reynolds blasted the ball at a relieved Holden as it looked easier to score. Sub Danny Hemmings came on and was immediately involved when he beat a man and fed Wilson, who forced a corner from another brave block eleven minutes into the second period.
A 59th minute corner should have bought a deserved equaliser as Wilson delivered into the danger zone two Reds efforts were blocked near the goal-line by more brave defending.
Play swung up to the other end again and the home side saw two bad misses from close range before Holden produced another outstanding save. Lyndon Weller then did brilliantly to block the next attack with a diving header. Hemmings then broke well and produced a brilliant low cross that Robertson couldn’t quite reach as he threw himself at the ball.
The Lockmen then had a very lucky escape when Holden was beaten by a fierce low range cross but the ball rattled the inside of the post and flew straight back into his grateful arms on 77 minutes. A minute later and Wilson blazed inches over as the attempts kept racking up but the ball just didn’t appear to be running for them.
Malvern then saw two great chances blasted well over and well wide before Willenhall won an 81st minute corner but the ball just wouldn’t drop to allow a shot at goal.
Reynolds then missed badly on 82 before another Lockmen corner should have brought them all square, but another brave block cleared the danger.
However, after both teams took it in turns to attack the scoreline stayed the same, Willenhall having to settle for a fine performance but no reward.