BIDEFORd will be playing Southern League Premier Division football next season.

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The Robins have reached new heights after clinching the Division 1 South and West championship on Easter Monday.

They took the title, with three matches still to play, with a dramatic late 1-0 win at home to Taunton.

Midfielder Sean Downing was the hero of the hour, climbing high to head home a free kick by Nick Barker for the match and championship winning goal in the 86th minute.

This was just reward for a Bideford side who had enjoyed the best of the play in a match that did not quite live up to its local derby billing, but had seen earlier chances scrambled away.

It brought a triumphant end to an Easter weekend that did not start well.

The runaway South and West leaders started knowing that wins in their two games against Gosport Borough and Taunton would give them the title.

But Saturday brought a 2-1 defeat at promotion-chasing Gosport and the end of an unbeaten run stretching back league 25 matches.

Gosport were given a kick-start with a fluke opening goal after 25 minutes when a clearance kick by Bideford defender Aaron Harper-Penman was charged down and the ball looped back over the head of keeper Paul Hider.

Both Matt Andrew and Connor Clifford had shots go close as Bideford looked for an equaliser.

But the Hampshire side doubled their lead with a headed goal from a cornerbefore the break and when Bideford then had the influential Matt Andrew sent off for use of an elbow in an aerial challenge, there seemed little chance of a way back.

But 10-man Bideford battled hard in the second half and were rewarded when Richard Groves pulled a goal back direct from a free-kick after 77 minutes.

Defeat left an Easter title celebration unlikely -until Gosport also beat Bideford’s only challengers Sholing 2-1 in an early easter Monday match, leaving the Robins knowing that victory over taunton would be enough.

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