Farkins is learning the drill at Bideford
WITH a first clean sheet of the season and a first goal for his new club, Saturday was a memorable day for Bideford defender Rob Farkins.
His thumping header 18 minutes from time was enough to give the Robins a 1-0 win over St Albans in the Evo- Stik League Southern premier division.
Like most of the squad, Farkins, from Torquay, is learning fast after stepping up from lower-league football this season.
Having played a handful of cup games for them last term, he was happy to commit full time after leaving the Army.
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"I lived in Germany last year and I was away in Afghanistan," said Farkins, 22.
"I didn't come home until October and I played for Liverton last year because I couldn't play every week.
"I love it here. It's testing yourself every week.
"You don't have a second to stop and think.
"It's a very good standard to play in.
"It's taken us a while to get to grips with it but we have had some good results."
None more so than Saturday when sixth-placed St Albans were outbattled by the hard-working home side.
Without creating many clear-cut chances, they showed the greater urgency, while the visitors did not come alive until it was too late.
Kevin Squire should have opened the scoring in the first half when the hosts produced the move of the match.
Connor Clifford broke forward from left back, Matt Andrew backheeled the ball and Squire cut inside, only to see his shot saved by Nick Jupp.
Clifford and Nick Barker worked well together on the left flank but both failed to hit the target with free kicks from the edge of the box.
And a wicked cross from Barker was headed over by Matt Andrew as Bideford continued to set the tempo.
St Albans included former top-flight footballers Barry Hayles, once of Fulham, and Micah Hyde, Watford, in their starting line-up.
Hayles, showing he still has a turn of pace at the age of 40, powered past Aaron Harper-Penman on the wing and set up Juan Onieva to bundle the ball past Paul Hider.
But as the striker wheeled away to celebrate the opening goal, his celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee flagging for offside.
Again Bideford were the team most likely to make the breakthrough when Squire won a header and Barker was thwarted by Jupp early in the second half.
Their growing confidence was shown when Andrew chested the ball down and let fly with a long-range shot that whistled just wide.
One goal always looked like being enough to settle the match and the visitors might have snatched it but for a fine interception from Ian Sampson.
The right back cleared the ball yards from his own line after Sean Shields smashed it across goal.
Hayles, sporting a bandage after a clash of heads with Harper-Penman, was substituted instantly after receiving a yellow card for a foul on Matt Hockley.
And the Saints had a further headache when Farkins met a corner from Connor Clifford to power the winner past Jupp.
The defender was quick to dismiss claims from team-mates the ball had actually gone in off St Albans player Danny Gordon.
Much like the previous home game against Chippenham, Bideford retreated to the edge of their box to protect the advantage.
This time, though, thanks to a couple of last-ditch clearances from Farkins and Harper-Penman, they held out for a win that lifted them out of the bottom two.
"It was a great team performance from everyone," said Farkins.
"Chippenham at home (a 2-1 defeat), we battered them but we didn't get the referee's decisions.
"Last Saturday (a 5-3 defeat at St Neots), after the first 50 minutes we were outstanding but they flew out of the blocks.
"Today it was solid. We are hard to beat at home and we have got a good enough side to keep grinding results."