Robins’ FA Trophy exploits come to an end against Ryman Premier Division visitors
HORNCHURCH ended Bideford’s FA Trophy adventure with a 3-0 win at the Sports Ground on Saturday.
The latest Londoners to visit North Devon were too strong for their lower-league opponents and the one-step gulf between the two sides was cruelly exposed in the last 25 minutes of an enthralling match.
Dulwich Hamlet had come and failed to conquer in the last round and the Urchins would have been right to be wary of a Bideford side still buzzing from a 3-0 midweek league victory against Paulton Rovers.
But the Essex boys rode into Devon on the back of eight unbeaten league and cup games and were determined not to make the 530-mile round trip without banking a first round proper place and the £4,000 prize money.
Bideford youngsters Raiff Gwinett, Craig Laird and Noah Keats had stolen the show with first-half goals in the Tuesday night Southern League clash against Paulton. All made an impact in a youthful looking Robins side, but all were asked to man the bench for the visit of the Ryman League Premier Division team.
While on loan Exeter City striker Kyle Bassett partnered Ellis Laight up front, manager Sean Joyce opted for experience elsewhere, something Bideford had to call on in droves as the hosts dominated much of the first half possession.
Jonathan Hunt hit the crossbar for Hornchurch in a goalless first half, but Rickie Hayles broke the deadlock midway through the second period, touching home a Dave Collis corner.
Captain Elliot Styles doubled the Urchins’ lead in the 80th minute, heading in from Hunt’s corner.
And Tommy Black sealed victory with a fine finish two minutes from time to set up an away tie at Zamaretto Central League side Ashford Town in the next round.