Bideford got their first win in Evo-Stik Division One South at the expense of Barnstaple Town this afternoon (Monday) as the Robins came out on top in the first North Devon derby of the season.
The Robins were 1-0 winners at the Sports Ground, with Matt Ward’s strike inside the penalty area after 65 minutes the difference between the two sides.
Ward had only been on the field for five minutes when his free-kick from the edge of the Barnstaple penalty area rattled off the inside of the post, and as Kevin Squire’s shot forced a save from Rob Holmes, Ward was in the right spot to fire a follow-up into the top corner.
The result means Barnstaple are still looking for their first points in Division One South, but the fine margin paired with last Tuesday’s positive performance against Bristol Manor Farm will give them confidence going into Saturday’s home game against Highworth Town.
Ward’s strike came at a time when the game was very much in need of a goal to bring it to life.
Bideford had enjoyed more of the ball in the first half, but were unable to find a breakthrough despite the pressure.
Their best chance of the first half fell to Ryan Turner, who got in behind the Barnstaple defence inside the penalty area only to fire his shot at Holmes.
For all their pressure it was Barnstaple who almost went into the break with the lead.
Cory Roach – a first half replacement for the injured Neil Last – beat Billy Tucker to the ball to fire across goal. Steve Oliver’s parry meant James Mayne was forced to scramble the ball away ahead of an onrushing Billy Hopcroft.
As the game drifted towards the hour mark the Robins began putting more pressure on the Barnstaple goal. A deep free kick from Tucker saw Craig Allan head back across goal, where an acrobatic effort from Turner forced Holmes to tip over the bar.
Ward broke the deadlock minutes later, bursting into the penalty area after his own free-kick had bounced off the inside of the post, he met the ball which had been parried by Holmes after Squire’s follow-up shot to put the ball in the net.
He nearly got a second for Bideford five minutes later. With Turner playing him into an almost empty half, the youngster drove forward to the goal and fired a shot away which rattled off the crossbar after a touch from Holmes.
The Barnstaple keeper was a standout performer for the visitors. Those saves, paired with a reaction stop to deny Squire five minutes from time, ensured the score was only 1-0 when the match reached its end.
Bideford: Oliver, Haynes, Gregory, Wood (Ward 59), Allan, Mayne, Bye, Carter, Squire, Turner (Hancox 85), Tucker. Subs not used: Down, Sampson.
Barnstaple Town: Holmes, Jones, Last (Roach 35), Middleton (Crook 64), Dart, Spence, Pinnick, Hopcroft, Radford (Welch 79), Langford, Jenkins. Subs not used: Whitecross, Maric.