Second straight league defeat gives Bideford plenty to think about as cup run continues

BIDEFORD’S cup hangover continued with a second successive heavy defeat in the Zamaretto Southern League.

After the recent champagne moments against London clubs in the FA Trophy, the reality of the Robins’ tricky task in the South and West Division was never clearer than in West Berkshire on Saturday.

Three second half goals by hosts Hungerford Town added to the misery of last week’s 5-2 drubbing by leaders Sholing.

Without want-away striker Jamie Mudge, who has signed for Dorchester Town, and the injured Steve Orchard and suspended Matt Bye, manager Sean Joyce strengthened his squad by taking 18-year-old Exeter City fringe first-teamers, striker Kyle Bassett and midfielder Noah Keates, on month-long loans.

And when Ben Wood and Craig Laird both picked up injuries in the warm-up, Joyce needed to call on Bassett to partner Kevin Squire up front.

Hungerford started well but failed to capitalise on a succession of corners and Bideford began to get into their stride with Sean Downing’s overlaps on the wing providing a constant threat.

Downing and Squire kept goalkeeper Keiron Drake busy and visiting keeper Matt Armstrong-Ford saved well from Richard Bland in a fairly evenly-matched first half.

Playing down the slope after the break, it didn’t take the hosts long to brake the deadlock through Jemel Johnson.

Seven minutes later, Bland made it 2-0 when he headed home a Ryan Crockford cross at the far post.

Drake saved well from Downing following a scramble in the Hungerford goalmouth and Squire hit the bar as Bideford attempted to salvage the match; but Johnson wrapped up the points and made it 3-0 with 10 minutes left to play.

The defeat saw Bideford drop to 12th in the table.

Last night (Tuesday) they were set to play fifth-placed Paulton Rovers at the Sports Ground, while on Saturday, another London side will visit North Devon on the FA Trophy hunt. This time, Bideford will host AFC Hornchurch, with £4,000 prize money and a place in the first round proper up for grabs.

Hornchurch, seventh in the Ryman League Premier Division, face a 530-mile round trip in their bid to do what Dulwich Hamlet failed to do in the last round.