Sean Downing unsurprised as Bideford savage Chippenham
BIDEFORD'S seven-goal thrashing of Chippenham Town may have come as a surprise to most people but Sean Downing was taking it in his stride.
After winning just once on their travels in the Evo-Stik League Southern this season, the Robins went on the rampage with a 7-1 win.
And the result even impressed BBC pundit Robbie Savage, who made them his non-League team of the day on 606, the Radio 5 Live phone-in show.
Rob Dray, the assistant manager, talked to Savage live on air after Bideford's biggest league win for more than five years.
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Strikers Downing and Kevin Squire scored twice each and Aaron Harper-Penman, Matt Bye and Matt Andrew completed a remarkable result.
"I think we have been due (a big win) for a while because we have always created chances," said Downing.
"Nobody expected it to happen but we know if we take our chances, we can score six, seven, eight. We are just not clinical enough."
That all changed at Chippenham where the hosts were 3-0 down by half time and imploded after Downing raced clear to make it 4-1.
Straight after conceding the fourth goal, Adie Harris, the Chippenham midfielder, was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Andrew and sent off.
"The last four or five goals were goalmouth scrambles that dropped to us and we tapped them in," said Downing.
"They lost their heads, so it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Like Rob Dray said on 606, it was the seven ugliest goals ever.
"He spoke really well about us and just stated what we are – a small club in a small town. There are no big egos in the team."
A positive approach saw Bideford emphatically end their poor away record, which had brought one previous win, at Frome Town on Boxing Day.
"It shows we can actually play away from home," said Downing.
"It tells people we're not just a Stoke City – a team that is pretty unbeatable at home and just goes away to get a draw.
"We never play any game thinking, 'They are a bit decent, we might have to settle for a 0-0'.
"The best form of defence is attack. We want to play the way we play instead of being dictated to."
Bideford reverted to a three-man defence with Jack Furzer playing behind Aaron Harper-Penman and Rob Farkins.
James Richards impressed at right wing back, making his return to the team because Ian Sampson was unwell.
The first goal summed up the workrate as Downing robbed goalkeeper Ben John when the ball appeared to be going out, setting up a tap-in for Squire.
"I thought I'd give it a chase down anyway," said Downing. "The keeper tried shepherding it out but his eyes were on me and not the ball."
A corner from Matt Bye saw John redeem himself with a smart save from Downing's header but Harper-Penman was on hand to force in the rebound.
Bye then rounded off a slick counter-attack, beating the keeper with a left-footed chip from the edge of the box.
Chippenham responded with a close-range strike from Tom Knighton after Tim Sandercombe saved the initial effort from Ashley Williams.
A growing understanding between the front two was seen as Squire set up Downing to restore the three-goal cushion.
Three minutes later, Downing added his second goal. That took his tally to 13 in all competitions this season but the 21-year-old is still eager to improve.
"I managed to hit the target, which makes a change," he said. "I do the hard stuff well, I get in to the box, and the end product isn't there."
Another break from Downing set up Andrew to make it 6-1 and Squire completed Chippenham's misery with the seventh.
Six wins and two draws in 11 games have taken Bideford to mid-table safety in the premier division.
So what is the target for the remainder of the season?
"Initially everybody said survival," said Downing. "I think we are pretty much safe now.
"After Saturday, and after the little run we have been on, I don't see why we can't finish top 12, top ten, even top eight.
"It's so tight in our league, you only need three or four wins and you're up there challenging for the play-offs."