BIDEFORD 2 AFC TOTTON 1
KEY AND DOWNING SHINE AS BIDEFORD CLOSE THE GAP ON PLAY-OFF RIVALS
Bideford picked up a huge three points on Saturday with a 2-1 win over fellow play-off contenders AFC Totton. Defeat would have left The Robins eight points behind their Hampshire rivals but second half goals from Josh Key and Sean Downing cut the gap back to just two points.
Bideford thoroughly deserved their win, dominating large portions of the game against a side who have not lost on the road since October. After an even opening 20 minutes, Sean Downing saw a header hacked off the line from a Matt Bye corner. Olly Mehew was then thwarted by Shane Murphy in goal for Totton and Kevin Squire volleyed over after being found by Mehew. The lively Mehew then worked an opening on the right side but his cut back was dragged just wide of the post by Downing. Bideford were hit by a sucker punch just before half time as Charlie Gunson cut into the box from the left and tucked a shot away in off the post to give Totton the lead. It was the away side’s first real attempt on goal and was hard on The Robins.
Whatever Sean Joyce said in the half time interval certainly worked as Bideford were level a minute into the second half. Great work down the left by Josh Key saw him work himself into some space on the left side of the box and the Exeter City loanee curled home a sublime finish into the top right corner for an excellent equaliser. It began a period of real dominance for the hosts as Mehew was denied by a great block in front of goal and James Mayne headed agonisingly wide from the resulting corner. Stephen Reed then rattled the crossbar with a fiercely struck free kick from 25 yards but Bideford didn’t have to wait much longer for their all important second goal.
Squire played Downing clean through down the middle and the Bideford number four showed great composure to round Murphy and roll the ball home. Totton did begin to threaten as Craig Feeney, looking offside it must be said, got in behind The Robins defence but skewed his effort wide at the near post. The same man was almost in again with 14 minutes left but Steve Oliver was alert and saved well at the striker’s feet. Feeney also saw a shot deflected over in injury time. At the other end Downing stung Murphy’s hands with a powerful drive and Key forced a good save from Murphy at the death as Bideford claimed a massive three points in the race for the play-offs.
Bideford: Oliver, Sampson, Allan, Mayne, Reed, Bye, Carter, Key, Downing, Mehew (Wood 87), Squire (Hancox 77). Subs: Western, Palmer, Hancox, Wood.
Bideford: Key 46, Downing 55
AFC Totton: Gunson 43