A MUCH-improved Malvern display helped them pick up a valuable nine points towards their mission to avoid relegation from Worcestershire Cricket League Division Two.

They earned a losing draw against promotion-chasing Worcester Dominies at Regency Road and moved up to second-from-bottom but still 33 points off safety.

On a sweltering day, Malvern stand-in skipper Anthony Arnold won the toss and put Dominies in to bat.

Prolific opening batsman Steve Miles got the visitors off to a great start but steady bowling from Charlie Lacey (1-20) and the introduction of Neil Thompson slowed the run-rate.

Miles forged partnerships with his brother Chris (30) and Matt Loynes (47) before falling to spinner Arthur Jones (1-31) for a quick-fire 66.

But a big score looked on the cards as Jon Hancock began to send the Malvern bowling to all parts of the ground.

Jeremy Lee (1-59) and Thompson (4-64) managed to keep some kind of lid on the scoring rate, picking up regular wickets while Hancock was making hay at the other end.

He eventually holed out unluckily for 99 as fourth-placed Dominies' innings came to an end on 297-7 from 50 overs.

Malvern openers Arnold and Lacey set about the daunting target in positive style, particularly the latter who raced into the 30s in a matter of overs.

Arnold (36) was tied down by fine bowling from James Gerrish but gradually accelerated his rate before being run-out going for a second.

The 100-run partnership set a great foundation for Malvern to kick on from as David Cox joined Lacey.

Only 10 runs later, Lacey received a good delivery from Gerrish and lost his middle stump for an elegant 62.

Malvern’s dangerous Rob Francis was caught behind for just two and a potential collapse was feared.

Debutant Chris Boucher (31) immediately looked in good touch and kept the scoreboard ticking over with Cox (30).

Both fell in quick succession as Max White (42 not out) and Lee (26no) came to the middle with the task of reaching a target of 225 to achieve the draw.

Both men ensured their initial target was met before hitting out in the final couple of overs, taking Malvern to 259-5.

They visit third-placed Oldswinford and Stourbridge Social on Saturday (1pm).

Malvern seconds, fired by openers Simon Jones (69) and Rhys Humm (45), thrashed hosts Romsley and Hunnington by 218 runs after totalling 277-8.

Romsley crashed to 59 all out with Chay Ankers taking 5-16 and Jones 2-4 off seven overs.

For pictures from the Malvern match, see this week's Malvern Gazette.