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EVO-STIK LEAGUE SOUTHERN PREMIER DIVISION: Chippenham Town 1 Bideford 7
CHIPPENHAM Town were left licking their wounds after suffering a humiliating 7-1 defeat at home to Bideford this afternoon.
On a torturous afternoon for the Bluebirds, they were torn to pieces by their ruthless Devon visitors, who seemingly capitalised on every mistake made by the hosts to serve up and excruciating experience for the Hardenhuish Park faithful.
After a quiet opening period, the first chance of the game fell to Bideford 14 minutes in.
Former Frome Town man Ben Wood smacked a ball forward and striker Sean Downing beat the offside trap before attempting to lob the onrushing Ben John, but his shot dropped just wide of the target.
Just before the 20-minute mark, there was a sign of the anguish to come as Chippenham fell behind, with a horror moment at the back rearing its head.
With a loose ball rolling towards him, keeper John attempted to let it travel out for a goal kick rather than clear his lines but he was charged down by the visitors' Downing, who nicked the ball from under the goalie's foot and left Kevin Squire with an empty net to tap in to.
Just a minute later, John had to tip over a powerful effort from Wood and, following a corner, Downing poked wide on the stretch.
With 41 minutes on the clock, the Bluebirds goalie had to beat away a superb strike from Matty Bye and from the resulting corner, Bideford went 2-0 up.
Downing powered a header towards goal and John saved brilliantly before flinging himself back up to get a hand to another strike.
The ball then got caught in a scramble on the line and despite John's best efforts, was eventually tapped in by Aaron Harper-Penman.
Chippenham were up in arms, claiming a foul on their keeper, but the linesman and referee Adrian Tranter were unmoved and the goal stood.
The Bluebirds had a mountain to climb and their task was made even harder on the stroke of half-time when Bideford netted a well-worked third.
Squire and Downing combined up front to play the ball out to the arriving Matty Bye on the edge of the box, who lofted a deft finish over the onrushing John to net his side's third.
The hosts probably thought that things couldn't get any worse in the second period and the opening stages did attest to any positive aspirations.
Chippenham captain Steve Casey almost pulled a goal back straight after half-time, heading just over the bar from a Luke Ballinger corner.
Then in the 51st minute, the hosts got a goal back when Brandon Barnes' free-kick was touched on to Ashley Williams and striker Tom Knighton pounced to tap in on the line.
But any hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow as the visitors roared back just moments later, with Downing getting a run on the Bluebirds defence and lashing a strike home into the side of the net to restore the visitors' three-goal lead.
And almost instantly from the kick-off, things got even worse for Chippenham when Adie Harris launched in to a challenge on Matt Andrew and was given his marching orders after receiving his second booking of the afternoon.
Almost instantly, an awful afternoon for the Bluebirds became a desperate one as Downing again got in to punish the hosts and make it 5-1, with his shot this time going in off the upright.
The Bluebirds were staring down the barrel but winger Ballinger did attempt to salvage some pride when he burst forward on the counter and struck a swerving volley narrowly wide.
Toby Osman also fired in a fierce volley from outside the area that was destined for the back of the net before a brave Bideford head got in the way.
But the visitors weren't done heaping misery on Nathan Rudge's side.
In the 73rd minute, man-of-the-match Downing burst down the right flank and rolled a cross into the area and despite Williams getting a touch, a cruel bounce allowed Andrew to poke home number six.
There was no respite for Chippenham and with nine minutes remaining, the ten man Bluebirds were again punished on the counter-attack.
A ball into the box took a series of wicked deflections, pinballing around until Squire, who opened the scoring, was left with an easy finish to drive the final nail into the Chippenham coffin.
CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Ben John, Toby Osman, Jim Rollo, Ashley Williams, Steve Casey (c), Adie Harris, Luke Ballinger, Scott Lye, Brandon Barnes (Iain Harvey 67), Tom Knighton (Dean Griffiths 62), Lee Phillips (Alan Griffin 62).
Sub not used: James Guthrie.