Bideford's Matt Andrew nets a double to bring down Weymouth
A GIFT and a goal of the season contender saw Bideford start 2013 the way they finished 2012.
Two strikes from Matt Andrew – a stunning shot and a goalkeeping howler – gave the Robins a 2-1 win over Weymouth at the Sports Ground on New Year's Day.
After one defeat in eight games, Sean Joyce's team have moved eight points clear of the relegation zone in the Evo-Stik League Southern premier division.
And Weymouth, chasing a play-off place with six consecutive victories, were the latest club to come unstuck against a side who do not care for reputations.
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In the last six weeks, Bideford have beaten promotion chasers St Albans Town and Hemel Hempstead Town at home.
They look a different side to the one who shipped three goals in ten minutes as they crashed to a 4-2 defeat in the rain at Weymouth in August.
Before the rematch, Weymouth manager Brendon King had warned: "It is not going to be pretty or one for the purist." He was not wrong.
Organisation and endeavour have taken Bideford to relative mid-table safety and those were the qualities that won the day on a heavy surface.
"They can moan about the pitch," said Joyce. "Their pitch was like a pigsty when we played up there.
"They can moan about the lights, the linesman, the referee. It's 11 against 11 and we wanted it more.
"Reputations count for nothing. We have been building our reputation coming up through the leagues.
"It was cagey, very cagey. I didn't want to change the shape. They didn't want to change the shape.
"They man-marked Matty Andrew in the first half. We're little old Bideford and they come here on a great unbeaten run and man-mark one of my players."
Andrew can take that as a compliment and when he was switched to the right in the second half he found the space to change the game.
Following a scrappy and scoreless first half, both teams were searching for quality in the final third when Andrew duly provided it.
Controlling a flick from Kevin Squire, the midfielder turned just inside the area and sent a volley flying past Simon Evans into the roof of the net.
If Evans could do nothing about that goal, he was left red-faced by Andrew's winning strike 12 minutes later.
As the Holland legend Ruud Gullit once harshly observed: "A goalkeeper is a goalkeeper because he can't play football."
Evans had clearly not heard that as he attempted to take on Squire with a drop of the shoulder. The keeper did not see Andrew, who was given the simple task of placing the ball in the empty net.
A crowd of 373, Bideford's biggest since switching to the Southern League in 2010, had gathered.
Without the suspended Rob Farkins, the hosts reverted to a flat back four and Ben Wood was handed his first start on the left wing since returning from Frome Town.
On the rare occasion either goalkeeper was called into action in the first half, Paul Hider did well to keep out a powerful free kick from Scott Walker.
Walker was the one player who looked like making Weymouth tick and the captain fired the equaliser in the 62nd minute after a clever reverse pass from Dan Smith put him clear.
"That's probably the only time they broke us down and, with the quality of players they have got, they can do that," said Joyce.
Within five minutes, with a bit of help from Evans, Bideford were back in front.
"The second goal just shows what we are about," said Joyce."We'll run, we'll scrap, we'll force them into mistakes.
"Ninety per cent of the teams in this league would sit off and let them have it there."
The introduction of Smith and Stephen Reed, playing against his home-town club, gave Weymouth greater urgency but they still struggled to create chances against a defence led superbly by Jack Furzer and Aaron Harper-Penman.
Harper-Penman denied Reed with a block, while front pair Mark Ford and Ben Joyce, who hit a hat-trick against Bideford in August, were never allowed to influence the game.
The Robins survived a penalty claim when the lively Smith went to ground under challenge from Furzer.
Substitute Richard Groves then went inches away from a fine goal against his former club, beating Evans with a swerving shot only to see the ball crash back off the bar.