Jubilant Robins do the double

Joseph Bulmer

BIDEFORD signed off a memorable Western League winning season with a Westinsure Devon St Luke s Cup victory against Exeter City on Thursday night. Having seen off Torquay United and Plymouth Argyle in previous rounds, the Robins were determined to complet

BIDEFORD signed off a memorable Western League winning season with a Westinsure Devon St Luke's Cup victory against Exeter City on Thursday night.

Having seen off Torquay United and Plymouth Argyle in previous rounds, the Robins were determined to complete a league and cup double against the holders at Willand Rovers' Silver Street ground.

And as voters went to the polls around the country, a confident Bideford grabbed pole position against a young and energetic Grecians side, who made them work hard for a 2-1 victory despite being reduced to 10-men.

Both sides were full of flair in an opening 45 that featured a feast of quick, passing one-touch football on a narrow Willand pitch that often left little room for manoeuvre.

While Bideford showed slightly more brawn than their young opponents, their were plenty of brains to go round both in both camps with each side providing a number of intelligent and searching balls in a bid to break the deadlock.

Bideford had the better of the chances to take the lead but were unable to do so until three minutes before the break, Darren Hawkings blasting in a free-kick from the edge of the box following a foul that saw Exeter reduced to 10-men.

The big defender had had a similar chance minutes before; but this time, he fired to the left of a badly positioned defensive wall and into the bottom corner of the net.

To their credit, City came out strong in the second half and in truth, rarely looked to be disadvantaged by the sending off.

Winger James Berry switched flanks and used pace and tenacity to begin punishing Bideford down the left, coming close twice within the space of five minutes.

The Robins began to look stretched for the first time in the game and eventually conceded an equaliser through Liam Ellis on the hour mark.

With the scores at 1-1, the game tightened up and looked to be heading towards extra-time until Matt Andrew, wearing the captain's armband in place of the absent Ian Down, cracked in the winner with around 10 minutes left to play.

Wood's Rory De Lap-style long throw-in had been largely ineffective all night; but when his pitch from the left was bundled out to Andrew, the skipper fired a shot through a crowded penalty box to do the double for the North Devon side.

n BIDEFORD celebrated it's successes at the annual presentation and awards dinner held in the town's Royal Hotel on Saturday night.

The evening featured celebrity guest speaker, former Premier League referee Jeff Winter, who re-presented the Robins with the Western League and St Luke's trophies.

Matt Andrew scooped a trio of top awards, walking away with the supporters' player, players' player and Bideford AFC player of the year honours.

Among the other awards presented, Kevin Squire won the Tommy Brimmacombe Cup for top goal scorer; Ben Wood was given the Ian Knight Cup for most goal assists during the season; and Dominic Rivans won the Roy Portch Cup for young player of the year.

There were also honours for Ian Down, who has clocked up 100 cup appearances for the club. Other silver salvers went to Darren Hawkings for 300 competitive appearances, Ryan Draper for 200, and Clay Bond, Matt Downing and Robb Francis for 100.

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