LES JONES sincerely wishes his old club Malvern Town all the best for the season ahead – except for this Sunday when he hopes to plot their FA Vase demise by guiding his Pershore Town underdogs to a shock victory.
Jones spent seven years with Malvern, making them a force in the West Midlands League Premier Division with four successive top five seasons until he left in May 2018.
However, alongside No 2 Derek Doyle and a number of ex-Malvern players, Jones will be looking to plot a Pershore victory over his old club in their first qualifying round match at Evesham United’s Jubilee Stadium (3pm).
Although Pershore had offered to host the game because Malvern’s own ground is undergoing a revamp, the Hillsiders decided to stage the game at Evesham.
“I still live in Malvern and I want good things for Malvern Town – except on Sunday,” he said.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but it’s a game against a local rival, with the extra spice of the links between the clubs through the players and the management.
“It’s a one-off game and we will go there and be really positive.
“Malvern are the red-hot favourites, they are top of their league. They finished fourth in the league last season and we were 13th. They’ve been a top four or five side for the last four or five years.
“Each teams know each other well, we know their strengths and their weaknesses and they’ve been to watch us a few times so they know our strengths and our weaknesses.
“It’s an FA Vase tie against a local rivals so there shouldn’t be any more motivation needed.”
Pershore go into the game following successive defeats, losing 1-0 at Wolverhampton Casuals last weekend, but Jones felt they did more than enough to have come away with the points.
Kieran Cook bagged the only goal, slotting home after good work down the left by Reece Mason before half-time.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the way we played,” said Jones. “We were the better side and created the better chances in the first half and totally dominated the second half. They didn’t have a shot at our goal.
“The frustrating is that we didn’t take our chances but Casuals are a good side and that’s their third clean sheet. They defended well, all credit to them.”
Midfield kingpin Ben Lane is Pershore’s biggest doubt for Sunday’s tie after he injured his ankle after coming on as a sub at Cassies.
It’s been a stop-start campaign so far for Lane, who was a key figure in last season’s great escape.
“He was coming back from injury and suspension but he turned his ankle and it’s probably 60-40 against that he will be fit,” added Jones.
Meanwhile, Pershore have been handed a home tie with Studley in the first round of the Worcestershire Senior Cup. The winners will be then away to Worcester Raiders or Stourport Swifts.