BIDEFORD had a tough baptism into the Southern League Premier Division - reduced to nine men and beaten 2-1 on their opening day trip to Bedworth in Warwickshire.

The Robins fell behind after just two minutes to a Bedworth side themselves making a debut in the league after stepping up from Eastern Counties competition.

They were hardly into their stride when a defensive slip was punished by a superb angled volley by Bedworth midfielder Andrew Spencer.

Bideford were quick to respond and just 10 minutes later Kevin Squire ran through to split the home defence and lay on a pass for Sean Downing to slot the ball under the advancing keeper for an equaliser.

The early action continued when Bedworth found space again to restore their lead with a close range finish by Mitch Piggon five minutes later.

Second yellow

But still there was little between the sides until skipper Matt Hockley, already on a yellow card, received a second caution and was sent off after 38 minutes.

Bideford’s 10 men gave a good account of themselves, keeping Bedworth at bay, but they struggled to make the most of their own opportunities.

Further Bedworth chances were largely restricted to a five minute spell in the second half when they threw everything at the Bideford goal, but keeper Paul Hider played a starring role with a string of fine saves.

Hopes of an equaliser for the Robins were, however, finally dashed when Matt Bye was shown a red card for a late tackle in the closing minutes.

The Robins were continuing their campaign last night (Tuesday) with another potentially tough task in their first home game, taking on Gosport Borough, who made the move up with them from South League South and West.

On Saturday they will be at home again, entertaining Bedford Town, who drew 2-2 at home to Leamington in their opening match. Next Monday the Robins are in league action again away to Weymouth.