Mpi ends Robins run

Joseph Bulmer

Bideford beaten at lowly Thatcham

BIDEFORD’S excellent five-game unbeaten run came to an end with a disappointing 3-0 defeat at lowly Thatcham Town on Saturday.

The Robins were undone by a Charles Mpi hat-trick as they succumbed to their first league defeat since December 11.

Kevin Squire was on target alongside Matt Andrew, Ben Wood, Kyle Bassett and Craig Laird in a 5-2 Devon St Luke’s Bowl win on Tuesday night; and Squire was drafted in to play up front alongside Ellis Laight.

Kenny Griffiths was in goal for suspended goalkeeper Matt Armstrong-Ford and Bideford were without the unavailable Darren Hawkings and Matt Bye, who was called up to play for Exeter City Reserves.

Both teams started well and produced chances at both ends in the opening exchanges, Matt Andrew coming close with a well-struck shot on 15 minutes.

The unfortunate Ben Wood was forced to withdraw through injury inside 20 minutes and with 10 minutes to go before the break, Mpi seized on a moment of insecurity at the back to grab his first of the day.

Two minutes later, Thatcham were two up as Mpi danced his way through the visitors’ defence to roll his second beyond Griffiths and into the far corner.

Bideford started the second half well but the game was put to bed when Mpi grabbed his third with a near post header on the hour-mark.

There was more sad news for the club this week when long-serving central defender Rob Francis was told that he will never play competitive football again due to an Achilles injury.

Francis, 30, has spent two spells at Bideford under manager Sean Joyce and helped the club lift two Western League trophies.

He last featured in the Robins’ Westinsure Devon St Luke’s Cup win against Exeter City in May.

According to the club’s website, hopes for a return were ruled by specialists on Friday following months of rehabilitation.

Bideford were set to travel to second-placed AFC Totton last night (Tuesday) and are at home to Cinderford Town on Saturday, followed by another home appointment against Stourport Swifts next Tuesday.