The Robins beat Bishops Cleeve 2-1 in the Evo Stik Southern League Division One South and West clash at the Sports Ground.

Bideford v Bishops Cleeve. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Bishops Cleeve. Picture: Matt Smart

A Sean Downing brace was enough for Bideford to secure a 2-1 win over Bishops Cleeve.

Downing’s goals came within three minutes of each other during the first half of today’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at the Sports Ground.

Cleeve got a goal back through Ben Hayes before half-time and had chances to equalise in the second half, but Bideford survived to claim their third consecutive Division One South and West win at home.

The Robins started on the front foot and could have been 2-0 up within the first three minutes. Ben Watson’s strike in the second minute was saved by keeper Matt Wieczorek before James Richards fired wide a minute later.

Bideford v Bishops Cleeve. Picture: Matt SmartBideford v Bishops Cleeve. Picture: Matt Smart

The early pressure eventually paid off in the 17th minute. Stephen Reed’s corner was met by Downing’s head, and after a deflection the ball was in the roof of the net.

Just three minutes later Downing, who missed the majority of last season, was celebrating his second.

It was a case of him being in the right place at the right time. James Richards thunderous free kick from 22 yards out rattled the underside of the bar before bouncing off the line and meeting Downing.

The visitors pulled one back through Hayes with ten minutes of the first half remaining. The wide man met a miscued clearance from a corner with a sweetly struck volley, which rattled into the net off the underside of the bar.

Two minutes later, Squire had Bideford’s best chance for a third. Wieczorek could only parry another blasted Richards free-kick to the striker, only for him to clear the crossbar.

It was Cleeve who would have the better chances in the second half, with the opportunity to equalise on more than one occasion.

First of all Jacob Davidge struck the bar after running into space and needing only to beat Josh Colwill in the Bideford goal. Hayes was there to follow up, but could only blaze the ball over the bar.

With five minutes of the 90 remaining Cleeve hit the woodwork again. Davidge’s free kick came off the post and the ball fell perfectly for Paul Holmes in the six yard box. With the whole goal to aim at, the substitute dragged his shot wide.

Downing was a fingertip save from Wieczorek away from completing a hat-trick in the final minute after meeting a Dan Western cross with a looping header.