BIDEFORD paid the price for poor defending with a 4-3 defeat at St Albans City in the Evo-Stik League Southern this afternoon.
Despite two goals from Sean Downing and a penalty from Richard Groves, they were beaten for the first time in four games in the premier division.
Chris Seeby gave St Albans the lead after five minutes when the ball deflected back into his path after his initial shot hit Groves.
Downing broke clear to chip the equaliser but the hosts restored their advantage with the last kick of the first half. Matt Bye conceded a penalty which James Comley converted past Tim Sandercombe.
After a sluggish first half, Bideford were much improved in the second with Matt Hockley firing over and Kevin Squire going close with a header.
But they were caught out by a ball over the top as Chris Henry raced away from the back three of Jack Furzer, Rob Farkins and Aaron Harper-Penman to bundle past Sandercombe at the second attempt.
Groves, recalled in midfield with Matt Andrew unwell, pulled one back from the spot after a foul on Ben Wood.
However, St Albans eased clear again when Henry beat Sandercombe with a shot from outside the area three minutes from time.
There was still time for Downing to fire his second after Squire challenged for a cross from Wood.
The result leaves Bideford 15th in the premier division while St Albans are seventh, four points outside the play-off places with a game in hand.
On Tuesday, Bideford have a home game against Bedworth United, who were beaten 1-0 at Gosport Borough today and are one point outside the relegation places.
Barnstaple Town and Ilfracombe Town both suffered 3-1 defeats in the Toolstation Western League premier division.
A goal from Steve Holland was not enough for Ilfracombe who have slipped to 11th place after losing at Melksham Town.
Barnstaple trailed Bitton to goals from James Pilling, Daine O'Connor and Mark Salter before a late own goal from Ryan Ashwood provided their consolation.
Barum are seven points adrift at the bottom after Bridport and Wells City, their fellow strugglers, earned draws with Buckland Athletic and Radstock Town respectively.
In the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League, Witheridge suffered their first defeat under manager Chris Vinnicombe, 5-0 at Plymouth Parkway, but there were wins for Appledore, 4-0 at Axminster Town, and Holsworthy, 4-2 at home to Truro City.