Robins ready to resume season with FA Trophy trip to Evesham

Bideford celebrate during their Pitching In Southern League Division One South opener against Larkha

Bideford celebrate during their Pitching In Southern League Division One South opener against Larkhall Athletic at the Sports Ground. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

Bideford are set to get back on the football pitch on Saturday as they look to progress in the Buildbase FA Trophy following the end of the national lockdown.

The Robins’ first match since October 17 will see them travel to Division One South counterparts Evesham United in the first round proper of the competition.

The Football Association has allowed clubs to play first round ties before the official date of Tuesday, December 8, providing both sides involved are happy to do so.

With Bideford faced with a 300-mile round trip in midweek, the two teams came to an agreement to play the tie sooner.

Bideford manager Sean Joyce said: “Fair play to Evesham, we asked to bring it forward and they did. I think they realise as well that there will be more of a crowd on a Saturday and also people just want to play football.

“It will be intriguing to see what sort of game it will be.

“I’ve been twiddling my fingers bored with a sore head. Football has been a part of my routine for the last forty years so I’ll just be glad to get back out there.”

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While it is set to be a welcome return to football, the national lockdown has meant Bideford have not been able to hold training sessions.

Joyce said his squad had been given plans to maintain their fitness levels during the forced break.

Bideford and Evesham have been evenly matched in the league in recent years. Both fixtures between the two Robins during the cancelled 2019/20 season ended 2-2.

Both seem to have found their best form in the cup too. Bideford were yet to register a win in Division One South prior to the season’s pause, with four points from six games.

Evesham sit three places above the Robins in 13th, having taken eight points from their six games.

While the cup tie is set to go ahead, there is greater uncertainty around the resumption of the Southern League season following the reintroduction of the Government’s tier system for coronavirus restrictions.

Across the league’s four divisions 16 clubs sit in tier three, while 65 are in tier two and one is in tier one.

All but two clubs in Division One South are in tier two, with Bristol Manor Farm and Mangotsfield United in tier three.

The league is set to hold an emergency virtual meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the possibilities of restarting the season.

A vote on how to proceed is expected in the following days.

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