FORMER Bideford striker Craig Veal condemned Barnstaple Town to a fourth straight defeat in Evo-Stik League Southern.
Sent on as a half-time substitute, his 55th-minute header gave Taunton Town a 1-0 win and lifted them four places to 14th in Division One South and West.
He might even have had a hat-trick as Barnstaple turned in a poor second-half display on an icy evening at Mill Road.
After three 1-0 defeats in a row – and only one win in nine matches – they remain in the bottom four.
Barum felt they should have had a penalty for a foul on Ryan Turner by goalkeeper Lloyd Irish and Kyle Paine went close to an equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game but they had done little to deserve a point.
Taunton, who made headlines with their run to the FA Cup first round, had the first sight of goal when Adam Kelly lobbed a shot just wide in the second minute.
The first half was feisty but had little in the way of goalmouth action.
Craig Allan and Lee Francis made crucial interventions to keep the visitors out.
As the half went on, Barnstaple had more pressure and James Blake dug out a shot which looked to be going narrowly wide even without Irish pushing it behind.
Five minutes before half-time, Taunton centre-back Alex Hoyle headed just over his own bar from Jed Harper-Penman’s left-wing corner. Liam Gregory took the resulting corner from the opposite flank and his delivery was begging for a finishing touch as it flashed across goal.
Veal, who scored eight goals for Bideford in the 2014-15 season, replaced Jordan Rogers during the break and was soon into the action – stabbing a shot which was cleared off the line by Gregory after a good run down the left by Ross Staley.
The goal came two minutes later as Kelly’s corner from the left was headed back across by another ex-Bideford man, Matt Wright, and Veal nodded it in.
Barnstaple could not get into the game and were fortunate to not concede again. Kelly eased past a couple of tackles on the edge of the area and curled a shot against the post, then Veal glanced a free header wide.
There was a change in momentum on 70 minutes when Turner ran on to a good ball from Harper-Penman and was clattered by Irish. Crucially, though, the goalkeeper also got his hand to the ball and that was enough for referee Michael Halford to ignore Barnstaple’s loud appeals for a penalty.
The game had threatened to boil over and it finally did moments – but bizarrely it was two Taunton players, Kelly and Brett Trowbridge, who clashed and had to be separated by a team-mate.
That seemed to unsettle the visitors as Barnstaple finally had a spell on the front foot, with Gregory surging through the middle and flashing a shot just wide.
Scott Sharp was sent on in a double substitution with Paine and formed a three-man strikeforce with Turner and Blake but Barnstaple could not fashion a clear-cut opportunity.
In the last minute of normal time, Veal cut in from the right, drew a save from Steve Oliver and headed the rebound past the post.
It was in the fifth minute of stoppage-time that Paine struck a sweet left-foot drive but Irish clutched the ball under his crossbar.
Barnstaple Town (4-1-3-2): Steve Oliver; Scott Huxtable (Kyle Paine 79), Craig Allan, James Mayne, Liam Gregory; Niall Heeney; Jack Jenkins, Jed Harper-Penman (Scott Sharp 79), Lee Francis; James Blake, Ryan Turner. Subs not used: Jimmy Thorne, Steve Holland, Aaron Harper-Penman.
Taunton Town (3-5-2): Lloyd Irish; Owen Irish, Matt Villis, Alex Hoyle; Shane White, Ollie Chamberlain (Josh Searle 54), Adam Kelly (Ben Palmer 72), Brett Trowbridge, Ross Staley; Matt Wright, Jordan Rogers (Craig Veal ht). Subs not used: Michael Meaker, Matt Buse.
Referee: Michael Halford. Attendance: 133.