Falmouth Town will be hoping to add a semi-final appearance to their fantastic 2021/22 campaign this weekend when they visit Newquay in the Cornwall Senior Cup quarter-final.
Town are the defending champions after triumphing in the most recent final in 2019, with the 2020 and 2021 competitions being curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they will take one step closer to claiming the crown for a 13th time if they can overcome Craig Ainslie’s five-time winners.
Remarkably, Saturday’s tie will be the first time the teams have met in the Senior Cup since the 1992 final some 30 years ago, when Adrian Street’s goal sealed the Peppermints’ fifth and most recent cup crown.
Town, who have won all 18 of their league games this season, have seen off St Dennis and Bodmin Town to book their place in the last eight, while, bizarrely, it will be Newquay’s first appearance in this year’s competition.
The Peppermints were one of nine teams to receive a bye through to the second round where they were drawn with Porthleven, who forfeited the tie when they withdrew from the South West Peninsula League.
It will be both sides’ first game since the festive fixtures, with Town winning 5-0 at home to Penryn Athletic on Boxing Day while Newquay ran out 3-1 winners at town rivals Godolphin Atlantic a day later.
With neither side playing on January 3 or last weekend when almost all games fell victim to the weather, it means both teams will have been sidelined for almost three weeks by the time Saturday’s tie comes around.
“I think that’s been the disappointing thing really, the stop-start nature of it and losing momentum off the back of a very successful Boxing Day,” Town manager Andrew Westgarth said. “But everyone is in the same sort of boat, I think Newquay haven’t played since Boxing Day either.
“I think the Senior Cup is always a competition we earmark as wanting to do well in. In my early years as a manager it was a competition that could keep your season alive and was something you could hang onto. We’ve obviously been successful in it, and we know how good a day it can be and the good a cup run can do for your season, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Town have cultivated something of a reputation as a cup side over the last few seasons, thanks to their Senior Cup success in 2019, League Cup triumph in 2018 and FA Vase runs in 2019 and 2020.
But Westgarth insists his side’s desire to achieve cup success this season has not waned in light of Town’s excellent league showing this term.
“The league is our bread and butter and obviously we want to be successful in that, we’ve got our targets for that, but we take the cup very seriously and we want to do well in it,” he said.
“The supporters always get behind us and historically the cup games generate more crowds because we have more chance of doing better in those competitions. We’ve got a big bus going over and it’s always going to be an eventful game when Falmouth come to town.”
The pairing of Town with Newquay caught the eye when the draw was made back in November, with Peppermints talisman Jack Bray-Evans having swapped Mount Wise for Bickland Park a few weeks earlier, with team-mate Tom Moxham following suit not long after.
Bray-Evans had netted 12 times in 10 appearances for Ainslie’s side at the start of the campaign before joining Town, and he has kept that form going with 14 goals in 12 games in a Town shirt thus far, including a four-timer in the Boxing Day victory over Penryn Athletic.
Moxham has also made a good early impression for Town, with the left-back making three substitute appearances before earning a starting berth for Town’s final three games of 2021.
Saturday’s tie will be the first time the pair have returned to Mount Wise since leaving the club, but Westgarth, who includes Newquay among his former sides during his playing career, was keen to play down the significance of the event.
“Jack had been there for ten years but players move from club to club, it happens all the time,” Westgarth said. “I think Falmouth and Newquay have got a bit of history with players going both ways: Tom Whipp playing for Newquay, he’s an ex-Falmouth captain, I’ve been at Newquay before, Glenn Squires and Joe Cooper [have also played for both].
“It’s nothing new that’s happened, it’s probably just the timing of the draw [coming a few weeks after Bray-Evans’ move]. If you had to predict who we were going to get, it was inevitable we were going to get Newquay.
“The guys have been really respectful and they haven’t got a bad word to say. Jack was at Newquay for a long time and I’d hope he’ll be respectful when he goes back. I’m sure he’ll be absolutely fine.
“There’s been a few things on socials about Jack going back but he hasn’t got drawn into it. As far as he’s aware it’s just another game that he wants to do well in for Falmouth.”
Westgarth will be without Olly Walker and Jack Webber for the tie with the pair having returned to university for the new term, while Marcello Jones’ brief spell back at Bickland Park for the festive period has also come to an end.
Harry Clarke has also left Town after the former St Austell, Bodmin Town and Barnstaple Town man recently moved to London with his partner for a new career, with Westgarth describing him as a ‘big loss to the club’ and wishing him all the best for the future.
Clarke returned to Town at the start of the season after leaving the north Devon outfit and went on to make six starts and four substitute appearances for the club this term. He scored two goals, with both coming from the bench in a 5-2 win at home to Sticker in October.
It brings an end to the left-sided player’s second spell at the club, having left Town for the first time in 2019 to join St Austell. He featured more than 100 times in his first stint, including a substitute appearance in Town’s triumphant 4-2 victory over Tavistock in the Walter C Parson League Cup final in 2018.
Last five matches: Falmouth Town
Dec 26: Falmouth Town 5-0 Penryn Athletic (SWPL)
Dec 18: Launceston 0-3 Falmouth Town (SWPL)
Dec 11: Falmouth Town 4-2 Wadebridge Town (SWPL)
Dec 4: Liskeard Athletic 1-3 Falmouth Town (SWPL)
Nov 27: Falmouth Town 4-2 Camelford (SWPL)
Last five matches: Newquay
Dec 27: Godolphin Atlantic 1-3 Newquay (SWPL)
Dec 18: Wendron United 3-2 Newquay (SWPL)
Dec 11: Penzance 0-4 Newquay (SWPL)
Dec 4: Newquay 3-1 Sticker (SWPL)
Nov 27: Dobwalls 4-1 Newquay (SWPL)