Calor League Southern Premier Division leaders Hemel Hempstead Town saw their 12-game unbeaten run come to an end as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat on a frustrating afternoon in Bideford.
The Tudors went into the game on the back of nine consecutive victories – including a 4-1 triumph over Bideford at Vauxhall Road four days previously – but a Ben Gerring goal just before half-time earned the win for the Devon side.
Despite the defeat, Hemel still sit 11 points clear at the top of the table and manager Dean Brennan said he could not criticise his side for their display on Saturday.
“Sometimes you just have to give the opposition credit,” he said. “I can’t knock our lads.
“We started the game really well but we missed a couple of great chances and, if you don’t take your chances, you will be punished.
“Bideford are a big, strong team and deserved the win. They got their goal at a crucial time but we were camped in their half after half-time.
“They’re one of those teams who don’t give you anything, and the pitch didn’t help us at all. It’s one of the worst pitches we’ve played on.”
In boggy playing conditions at the Sports Ground, there were few chances of note before half-time but Bideford broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when Gerring pounced on a mistake from Hemel keeper Laurie Walker.
Hemel were in no mood to lose their unbeaten run and pressed forward in the second half in search of an equaliser.
Leading scorer Ben Mackey was unable to connect with a cross from David King and Rob Farkins produced an excellent challenge to deny Lewis Toomey after the Hemel striker had taken the ball past keeper Steve Oliver.
Hemel continued to huff and puff, but Bideford held firm and the Tudors were forced to make the long journey home empty-handed.