Matt Hockley nets late penalty to earn Bideford win over Hitchin
A LATE penalty from Matt Hockley gave Bideford a crucial 3-2 win over Hitchin Town on Saturday.
The captain held his nerve to seal a 3-2 triumph after their two-goal lead was clawed back.
Nick Barker marked his recall to the starting line-up by lashing the opening goal past Martin Bennett after excellent work from Kevin Squire and Downing. And Hitchin were stunned as Sean Downing broke clear to score the second with a low shot after only five minutes.
The frantic opening spell continued with home goalkeeper Paul Hider denying Zak Burke and Barker stabbing a half volley wide with the chance to make it 3-0.
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John Frendo then pulled one back with a 19th-minute penalty after his initial shot was judged to have been handled by Rob Farkins.
Within a minute it was all square as Frendo was denied by Hider and the ball fell for Burke to bury the equaliser.
At that stage, Hitchin were dangerous and they might have taken the lead as Kyle Lincoln made a powerful run from left back, only to fire over.
Bideford's positive second-half performance looked set to go unrewarded after a string of saves from Martin Bennett.
The Hitchin goalkeeper raced from his line to deny Downing after a defence-splitting pass from Matt Andrew.
Downing then made a mazy run to set up Squire who saw his low shot blocked by Bennett.
And the keeper reacted sharply to save at the near post when Andrew's cross deflected off a defender.
The effort and energy of the home team was summed up by Matt Bye in the build up to the winning goal. After stealing possession from Lincoln, he was denied by Bennett but still had the tenacity to win the ball back and draw a foul from Tony Fontenelle.
Hockley hammered his first goal of the season to lift Bideford out of the relegation zone.