DESPITE three injury-enforced first-half substitutions, a spirited Tavistock came close to earning a point in a 2-1 defeat at Malvern Town on Saturday.

In the 17th minute a big chance for Tavistock saw Jack Endacott make his way down the left wing before finding winger Alfie Cunningham, who played the ball inside to Alex Battle. The club top-scorer found Joseph O’Loughlin on the left-wing, who beat Malvern right-back Luke Payne before finding Cunningham inside the box. The Welsh winger took one touch before letting fly but his shot was blocked on the stretch by Malvern centre-back Reece King.

The hosts took the lead, against the run of play, on the half-hour mark. Malvern went down the wing through Joe Bullock, who went past Iestyn Harris before finding his way into the box. In a position where he could have easily panicked, the midfielder did well to send in a low cross to the far post which was tapped in on the stretch by Jordan Annear for his 13th goal of the season.

On 70 minutes, more great play by Endacott and Cunningham down the left saw the former whip in a cross which flicked off Payne at the near post and went out for a corner. Four minutes later, Tavistock equalised. Great play by Harris down the right saw the full-back lay the ball back to Tallan Burns. Burns took his time before sending in a curling delivery towards the box looking for Ed Harrison. The cross fell perfectly on the head of the skipper, who powered the ball past Bishop and into the top corner.

In the 77th minute a chance for Malvern saw a Taylor Scarff clearance fall straight into the path of Levi Francis just outside the box. The winger took one touch before looking to curl the ball into the top corner but his effort was high and wide of Aaron Dearing’s goal.

The Hillsiders retook the lead on 90 minutes. A corner taken by Bullock was headed back across goal by King into the path of Annear. Annear reacted quickly and poked the ball home through a host of bodies. It was the forward’s 14th goal of the season and second on the day against his former club. After the goal the fourth official announced there would be four minutes of added time.

In the third minute of injury time Scarff was booked for a kick-out on Malvern striker Jack Watts off the ball. Not long after, the referee blew the full-time whistle.

Malvern held on for another important three points, which sees them leapfrog Tavi in the table and move into 11th place. Tavi drop down into 13th, but Stuart Henderson’s side are still only six points outside the play-offs.