Bideford v Didcot Town: Billy Tucker penalty gives Robins winning start to season

PUBLISHED: 18:21 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:21 12 August 2017

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

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The Robins got a first opening day win since 2011 in the Evo-Stik League South West this afternoon (Saturday).

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

A second-half penalty from Billy Tucker ensured Bideford got up and running on the opening day of the Evo-Stik League South West season this afternoon (Saturday).

Tucker’s spot-kick in the 48th minute was enough to give the Robins a 1-0 win over Didcot Town at the Sports Ground.

The win is Bideford’s first opening day since the 2011/12 season – a campaign they eventually finished as champions.

While no-one should jump the gun, the Robins produced plenty of chances, and performances on the day from the likes of Max Smallcombe, Ryan Turner and Tucker gave Bideford fans plenty to smile about.

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

There were certainly a few opening day nerves for the Robins, who spent the first 15 minutes on the back foot as they struggled to settle into any sort of rhythm.

If it hadn’t been for Steve Oliver they may well have found themselves a goal behind after 14 minutes.

The Bideford keeper, one of four club debutants in the starting 11, produced a great diving save to keep George Reid’s 25-yard shot out of his top-left corner.

As the half developed, the Robins grew in confidence and started to create chances, the best of them falling to Kevin Squire eight minutes before the break.

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

The captain leapt highest to meet a Tucker free-kick at the penalty spot, with his header drawing a stop from Didcot goalkeeper Leigh Bedwell – the outstanding performer for the visitors.

At this point the pressure was building, Dan Western had grazed the roof of the net with a shot from distance, and Max Smallcombe, Squire and Turner had both seen efforts deflected.

The Robins eventually got the break they needed just two minutes into the second half.

Turner, who gave nothing less than his all the whole afternoon, prodded the ball past Cameron McNeill in the area. The left-back’s outstretched leg caught the forward, and referee Stuart Kane pointed to the spot. Tucker made no mistake with the penalty, blasting it to Bedwell’s left.

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

The most contentious decision of the game came at the other end seven minutes later.

Reid was running in behind the Bideford defence, and pushed the ball past Dan Harrison, who clattered the striker right on the edge of the penalty area. Kane pointed towards the area – but only for a goal kick – drawing plenty of protests from the Didcot 11, who wanted a free-kick at the very least.

The Robins had chances to extend their lead, with Turner and Tucker looking lively on the counter attack, but they couldn’t double their advantage.

That was partly thanks to some excellent keeping from Bedwell, who produced a reaction save to put a Turner effort from six yards around the post on the hour, and saved well in the final minutes to deny Tucker a second from 10 yards.

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

Bideford: Oliver, Sampson, Reed, Downing, Allan, Harrison, Western (Barker, 59), Smallcombe, Squire (c) (Veale, 64), Turner, Tucker (Mayne, 90).

Didcot: Bedwell, Jeacock, McNeill, Elkins, Cattell, Learoyd (c), Humphreies (Barder, 67), McNish, Reid (Hayden, 81), Joyce, Woodley.

Attendance: 236.

Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart Bideford v Didcot Town. Picture: Matt Smart

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