BIDEFORD 1 BISHOPS CLEEVE 0
An injury time Sean Downing goal gave Bideford a vital three points over Bishops Cleeve on Saturday.
Downing’s 91st minute header spared Bideford’s blushes as they squeezed past much improved bottom club Bishops Cleeve. Cleeve goalkeeper Sam Gilder was in inspired form making several important saves to keep The Robins at bay including a Ben Seymour penalty. Seymour first tested Gilder with a stinging right foot strike on eight minutes and two minutes later was inches away from giving Bideford the lead but dragged his shot just wide of the left hand post when closed down by Gilder. Seymour was then brought down by Olly Butler in the box after 14 minutes but Gilder produced a great save diving low to his left to repel Seymour’s spot kick.
Chances continued to come and go as Downing headed over from a Ryan Turner cross and James Mayne almost headed home from a corner but was denied by the head of a Cleeve defender. Gilder saved again from Seymour towards the end of the half as the young forward cut inside onto his right foot. The visitors had one big chance in the half but Steve Oliver, making his 100th appearance for The Robins, saved well from Ieuan Crowe.
Bideford laboured somewhat in the second period failing to create many real clear cut chances. Turner shot tamely wide and Seymour fired just over early in the half before Craig Duff’s shot on the turn sailed wide. Billy Tucker saw a free kick saved and later sent over a deep cross for Downing to volley across goal but no red shirts were on hand to finish. Bishops Cleeve were now growing in confidence on the break as they started to believe they could snatch a first away league win of the season. The lively Jack Watts cut in onto his right foot and unleashed a cracking strike which rebounded back off the crossbar from 20 yards and moments later Joe Bates headed over from close range. Watts then went close again curling a shot just wide of the right hand post with Bideford suddenly looking shaken.
However The Robins pressed forward again in the last ten minutes and the winner came a minute into injury time. Tucker curled a free kick into the box and Downing rose highest to head the ball over Gilder and give Bideford a massive three points as they attempt to keep pace with the other play off contenders. It was hard on Bishops Cleeve who had put in a resolute performance, particularly Gilder who was excellent in goal for The Mitres.
Bideford: Oliver, Sampson, Mayne, Harrison, Reed (Tucker 57), Downing, Bye, Carter, Turner (Western 73), Duff (Squire 79), Seymour. Subs: Tucker, Western, Squire, Allan.
Goal: Downing 90+1