INJURIES, illness and isolation conspired to end Clee Hill United’s flawless start to the Herefordshire League Premier Division season but boss Wayne Whitbread is confident they will bounce back.

Hill had won their opening five fixtures but fell 3-1 at home to Hereford Pegasus Reserves on Saturday, a game self-isolating Whitbread missed after a family member tested positive for Covid.

“From what I hear, we didn’t play well,” Whitbread said, “but a couple were missing because they were isolating too and we’ve picked up injuries to key players at the same time.

“The squad is pretty stretched and I think that probably told on Saturday,” he added after a Craig Breakwell penalty got United back in it at 2-1 only for them to concede a third goal on the counter.

Hill remain top despite the loss and host mid-table Shobdon this weekend, with Whitbread adding: “Hopefully the defeat was just a blip because we have been playing very well to be fair.”

With James Clifford and Charlie Edwards out with ankle ligament injuries, United have also had to cope with the departure of goal machine Josh Carpenter to West Midlands League’s Bewdley Town.

Carpenter scored 20 goals in the curtailed 2019-20 campaign and a staggering 57 as Clee Hill romped to the title the year before.

“We were lucky to keep him as long as we did,” added Whitbread. “He wanted to try to push himself at a higher level and we wish him all the success he can get.

“But Craig (Breakwell) and Ryan (Clarke) up front have been absolutely superb for us, so we haven’t missed Josh as much as we thought we might.”

Ludlow Town Colts moved up to fifth with a 5-1 win over Ledbury Town, as Keanu Cooper (2), Jack Bright (2) and Luke Hicks got the goals.

Tenbury United remain top of Division One after a 6-1 win at Hereford Pegasus Colts. Mark Boucker bagged a brace, while Mike Foster, Mike Morris, Adam Staples and Ryan Morris also netted.

Dec Bright hit a hat-trick and Ian Patterson got the other as Tenbury Town beat Fownhope 4-2 but Ludlow Colts Reserves lost 4-2 at Leominster despite goals from Scott Guilbert and Corey Whitticase.