Sean Joyce glad of breathing space ahead of testing run on the road
Bideford face one of their toughest Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division tests of the season at promotion-chasing Stourbridge today.
The West Midlands side are third in the Southern League top flight and anxious to back up last week's 1-0 win at Frome following a 3-2 home defeat by second-placed Hemel Hempstead Town.
The Glassboys have hit an inconsistent patch after making a free-scoring, flying start to the season including an 8-1 home win over Banbury, a 5-0 win over Chesham and an eye-catching 5-1 win at Weymouth.
As recently as January 5, they beat leaders Leamington 5-1 at the War Memorial Athletic Ground.
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Since then, Leamington have stacked up seven wins from nine to build-up a seven-point lead at the summit.
The home side's squad has been boosted by the signing of wing back or winger Andre Francis from Blue Square Bet North side Solihull Moors and he is set to make his home debut. Central defender Nathan Bennett is set to return after missing the Glassboys' last two matches with a calf injury.
Prolific Ben Billingham and fellow midfielder Drew Canavan fired Stourbridge 2-0 up within five minutes when the sides met at Bideford in October last year but Sean Joyce's Robins responded well with Sean Downing and Kevin Squire replying for the home side.
Coincidentally, both players were on target on Tuesday night as the Robins beat Cambridge City 2-1 thanks to Squire's stoppage-time winner following a wonder strike from Downing to open the scoring.
Joyce was delighted with the victory ahead of a punishing away spell.
He said: "We've had three games at home, two wins and a draw, and I couldn't be happier because we have now got a run of four away games in two weeks starting at Stourbridge.
"Then we go to Arelsey, Kettering and Hitchin so there are some miles to do as well as playing four matches. The win the other night gives us a bit of a buffer over the teams below us before those games – and we might need it."
Nevertheless Joyce is delighted with the scoring form of Downing, Squire and Matt Andrew, saying: "Sean has 13, Squiresy has got 12 and Mattie 11 and all three are in the league's top goal scorers' chart, which is a great achievement for a club like ours and I take my hat off to them."
In Division One, South & West, eighth-placed Tiverton Town visit third-bottom Bridgwater Town ahead of a testing trip to play-off rivals Yate Town next Tuesday.
Fourth-bottom Taunton Town, fresh from a 5-2 midweek county cup win over Frome and a hat-trick for Rod Marsh, visit fifth-bottom Mangotsfield United.