MALVERN Town's hopes of winning the league title suffered a damaging blow on Saturday as they endured an afternoon to forget at Thornbury Town. 

Jack Sheppard-Cozens, 17-year-old Jack Smith and Harvey Pritchard scored the goals as Thornbury stunned the league leaders 3-0 on a miserable day for the Hillsiders.

Having played two games more than title rivals Cribbs, Malvern are now one point behind and seemingly very much up against it now if they are to finish as champions. 

Second place will guarantee at least a play-off for Malvern and they remain well clear of third-placed Worcester Raiders, but this was a result that will hurt for some time.

Having bowed out of the Wiseman Lighting Floodlit Cup at the semi-final stage in mid-week to Mangotsfield United, Malvern went into the clash with Thornbury looking for a reaction. 

But the conditions at The Mundys were proving difficult and Malvern struggled to adapt in the first-half and failed to create a chance of note, despite controlling the majority of the possession.

However, the hosts took the lead right on the stroke of half-time when Sheppard-Cozens converted from the penalty spot after Adam Sauntson's foul in the box. 

The upset of all upsets was on the cards but the visitors came out of the traps early on to try and get back in the game and Joe Bates was denied an equaliser by a block from the ‘keeper within the opening couple of minutes.

With Carrick Hill forced off through injury, Malvern took the opportunity to shuffle the pack, but straight away were caught out when Smith rounded Keiron Blackburn and slotted home from an acute angle to double Thornbuy's lead.

Malvern were now staring defeat fully in the face and the threat of falling off the top of the table was beginning to set in.

They were offered a lifeline with 14 minutes to play when a dangerous challenge on Harry Wickett was rewarded with a penalty. But Matt Turner's kick was saved and with that, their last chance of rescuing a point came and went.

Malvern pushed late on but Thornbury caught them on the counter and Pritchard broke through, rounded Blackburn once again and wrapped up the points to complete a miserable afternoon for the away side.

The vital three points move Thornbury further clear of the drop zone/ They move on to 26 points, four clear of second-bottom Chipping Sodbury Town.