TENBURY United may still be searching for their first win of the season with a quarter of the campaign played, but Nick Stocker says he saw plenty of encouraging signs during their latest defeat.

United sit second from bottom of the Herefordshire FA County League Saturday Premier, having taken just two points from their opening six league games.

But Stocker says a managerial reshuffle which will see him step aside from a joint role to act as assistant to former dug-out partner Aaron Morris – plus a pair of promising signings – could help turn the club’s season around.

And with Jamie Richards, signed from Ludlow, starting his first full game in midfield at the weekend and United having finally succeeded in their long courtship of former Orleton striker Nathan Hardisty, the former joint boss said the improvement was obvious, even as his teammates suffered a 4-2 defeat to a strong Malvern Town Reserves side at the weekend.

“We were 2-0 up at half time and it was the best Tenbury performance I’ve seen for many a year,” said central midfielder Stocker, who was on the bench on Saturday after work and family commitments affected his availability for the past month or so.

“We were missing quite a few players so Aaron changed the formation about and everything he did worked wonders, even if the result wasn’t what we wanted. We know [Malvern] had four first-teamers because their first team didn’t have a game.”

A first-half brace from Mark Boucker gave United hope of an elusive first victory only for the visitors to yield in the second half, with the decisive third and fourth Malvern goals arriving in the final five minutes.

“We’ve had a real stop-start season,” said Stocker, “we’ve had players leaving because they’ve got something else on, we lost our captain Gav Podmore to Worcester Raiders, and Lee Millichip has been ruled out by work commitments, so that has left us really light in central midfield.

“But I’m confident we will start getting results when we play the teams around us in the table, although that means the pressure’s really on for Saturday.”

United are due to host basement side Kington at the weekend, with the visitors pointless after five fixtures. Stocker - hoping to figure on Saturday despite family commitments - and his teammates are set to face a challenge of a different nature three days later, with a trip to league leaders Wellington Reserves.

“We’re not expecting Kington to be easy, just because we put in a good 45 minutes on Saturday,” added the former manager, “and Wellington is always a tough game, but we seem to do well against them. We lost narrowly to them earlier in the season, 3-2, so we have nothing to fear.”

Tenbury Town too had another tough weekend, losing 5-0 at Fownhope to stay third from bottom, just one point and place above their cross-town rivals.

Dean Morris’ side will be aiming to get their second league victory of the season on the board at sixth-placed Ledbury Town on Saturday.