BARNSTAPLE TOWN suffered their first defeat of pre-season with a 4-1 loss to North Devon rivals Bideford on Tuesday.
After an encouraging summer with a number of new signings, the result came as a reality check ahead of the Toolstation Western League First Division season.
Bideford, who play three levels higher in the Calor League Premier Division, proved their seniority with a slick first half.
Two sharp finishes from Owen Howe and headers from Rob Farkins and Kevin Squire made it 4-0 by half time.
Town improved after the break when Tom Marsh scored a header – the first goal Bideford have conceded during six friendly victories.
Following the 2-1 success against Tavistock and comfortable wins over Fremington and Holsworthy, Tom Bulley, the Barnstaple manager, was glad to have a tougher fixture.
"I take the positives," he said. "It was a good test for us. Exactly what we needed."
Sean Joyce, the Bideford manager, accused Barnstaple of being overly aggressive. Joyce said: "They were virtually trying to kick us off the park. There were a few tackles flying around that were a bit naughty."
Joyce confirmed Saul Halpin, Jack Furzer and Ethan Phillips have signed for the season.