SEAN JOYCE has warned his Bideford players not to let their standards drop after a surprise 2-1 defeat at Yate Town in the FA Cup.
The Robins have earned plaudits for reaching second in the Calor League Premier Division with nine games unbeaten this season. But pride came before a fall against renowned Cup specialists.
Yate, who reached the first round last year, knocked out their higher-level opponents in second round qualifying with a late winner by James Harmer.
After deservedly taking the lead with a clinical finish from Owen Howe, Bideford's demise came with a dreadful second-half display. All the qualities central to their early-season form – concentration, quality and hard graft – disappeared and the manager slammed his players for failing to match their recent high standards.
"They are believing they are better than they are and they had their pants pulled down," said Joyce. "They have believed the hype.
"Owen Howe was the only one who showed a bit of quality and purpose and that's an 18-year-old kid. The rest were poor. Every shirt will be up for grabs after that performance."
The afternoon had started positively for the visitors, dominating possession in a fast-paced first half.
Craig Duff shot wide at the near post and Sean Downing had a 20-yard shot tipped over by Martin Horsell. When Howe drilled across goal, Mitch Harrison did well to clear the danger with Kevin Squire waiting for a tap-in at the far post.
With the strength of Lewis Haldane and movement of Rick Hulbert up front, Yate showed why they had already dumped out Premier Division opponents Chippenham Town in the previous round.
Haldane, the former Bristol Rovers forward, twice muscled his way past Jack Furzer – never an easy task – only to be denied by a block from Ben Gerring and a smart save from Steve Oliver.
After forcing a succession of corners, Bideford were good value for their lead, provided by Howe on 28 minutes. As Yate appealed in vain for a foul on Joe Chandler, the teenage striker raced in behind to sweep past Horsell from a tight angle.
For whatever reason, the first-half fluency gave way to a disjointed second period but that might have been irrelevant had Bideford been awarded a penalty.
Squire appeared to be pulled over by a defender as the ball ran to Duff, who had a shot blocked. The referee opted not to point to the spot.
"He said to Craig Duff he played advantage but you don't want advantage there," said Joyce. "You want a penalty and a sending-off."
Growing in confidence, Yate offered a warning when Harmer lobbed a shot just over the bar. Their persistence paid off when Harmer dashed down the left and crossed for Haldane to bury a shot beneath Oliver.
Joyce attempted to shift the momentum by sending on Ian Sampson on the right wing and pushing Downing up front alongside Howe.
Yet Yate continued to threaten and in the 90th minute a cross from Harrison was bundled home by Harmer despite the efforts of Oliver and Sampson to scramble the ball off the line.
"We had enough chances to win four games," said Joyce. "We didn't take them and we got what we deserved."