Bideford’s indifferent form in BetVictor Division One South continued on Tuesday night with a 3-1 defeat at home to Melksham Town.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

The Robins were unable to get a foothold on the match after goals from Jake Mawford and Jack Ball twice gave Melksham the lead in the first half.

Mawford's fortuitous goal inside 10 minutes was cancelled out after by Jack Rice-Lethaby on his return to the Sports Ground, but Ball quickly put the visitors back in front.

As Bideford's fruitless search for an equaliser drifted further into the second half, Mawford produced a superb strike for his second goal and Melksham's third to take the game away from the Robins.

The result means Bideford stay 17th in Division One South, having picked up one win in their last nine.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Manager Sean Joyce said his side paid the price for 'gifting' Melksham two goals.

He said: "Liam's flapped one in and let one in from 30 yards. What can you do?

"We've gifted goals and never got going. It was two bang average teams we were looking at tonight and we just gave them a leg up and something to hang on to, and we do it all the time. We just keep teams in games all the time by doing stupid things.

"We're not having the rub at the moment but then again I thought they worked hard.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

"For the first time in a long time I think they outworked us and we looked tired and leggy.

"We gave goals away at important times and it gave them a lift and dropped us down.

"I'm building and I know it's going to be a building season, because we've lost that many players, but it's a good squad.

"I look at it and it should be doing better. I thought we panicked today, we should have passed it better and they're better than that."

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

A mistake from Bideford goalkeeper Liam Kingston handed Melksham the lead after nine minutes and put the Robins on the back foot.

Kingston went to claim Mawford's cross from the left flank, but the ball slipped through his hands and crept in at the back post.

Bideford looked the better side for long periods of the first half, but the ball would not break for them in the first 30 minutes.

The hosts saw three corners take a deflection and fall loose in the penalty area, and all three times there was no Bideford player there.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

The ball eventually broke for Rice-Lethaby with 33 minutes played, with the winger surging into the box from the left and fired a low shot past Jamie Bartlett.

While the equaliser was probably deserved, the parity didn't last long. Three minutes later Melksham took the lead again when Ball riggled free of the Bideford defence on the edge of the penalty area and placed a shot past Kingston.

Sean Downing almost equalised with the final kick of the half, but when a corner kick fell to him at the back post his effort went into the side netting.

Bideford started the second half well, and with the introduction of Ryan Turner 10 minutes in, looked to have a bit more fluency going forward, but they were largely unable to test Bartlett.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

After struggling to carve out a chance for an equaliser it was Mawford who extended the visitors' lead midway through the second half. His well-taken effort from 25 yards crept beyond Kingston's reach and bounced into the bottom corner.

Jack Rice-Lethaby forced a save from Bartlett after cutting in from the right. The parry was met by an onrushing Turner, who looped the ball over the bar.

The Robins' night was just about summed up with five minutes remaining when, with a chance to reduce the deficit, Alex Byrne's shot from inside the penalty area deflected wide.

The defeat means Bideford lie 17th in Division One South, and with Barnstaple Town beating Larkhall 3-1, Joyce admitted his side was 'in the mire' at the bottom.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

"We need to get some points," said Joyce

"With Barnstaple's win that's us right back in the mire with them now.

"The Boxing Day derby is massive. For the first time in a long time there's something on it.

"Usually we're mid table and they've been down the bottom half, but at the moment it's a massive one. I'm glad there's something on it."

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Bideford: Kingston, Sampson, Heeney, Goulty (Turner 56), Down, Palmer, Rice-Lethaby, Smallcombe, Byrne, Simpson (Billingsley 71), Downing (Wood 81). Subs not used: Carter, Turner, Charles, Wood.

Melksham Town: Bartlett, Ibrahim (Ballinger 67), Romanski, Thompson, Ford, Rutty, Chainey, Hopkins (Ormrod 62), Ball (Wain 86), Pryce, Mawford.Subs not used: Rudge, Evans.

Bideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Melksham Town in BetVictor Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart