Jack Bray-Evans plundered a magnificent four-timer as Falmouth Town put five past local rivals Penryn Athletic in their festive Boxing Day clash.
Bray-Evans netted the first goal of the game, which was watched by a South West Peninsula League record 1,171 people at Bickland Park, ten minutes before the break before Toby Clark doubled the lead with the final act of the half.
Former Newquay man Bray-Evans thundered an unstoppable volley past visiting goalkeeper Adam Robathan within two minutes of the restart before ex-Town man Joe McIlroy, on as a sub, saw red for Penryn.
Bray-Evans completed his hat-trick with a close range finish midway through the second stanza before Ryan Barnes saved Nick Boase’s penalty at the other end, with Bray-Evans scoring his fourth and Town’s fifth late on as Andrew Westgarth’s side made it 18 wins out of 18 in the league this season.
Town chief Westgarth made two changes from the side that won 3-0 at Launceston eight days earlier. Regular stopper Ryan Barnes returned to the side in place of Zack Telling, while Olly Walker’s impressive cameo against the Clarets earned him a starting berth ahead of Alex Wharton.
A new league record of 1,171 spectators packed into Bickland Park for the festive derby clash – the first league meeting between the rivals for 15 years – and were treated to a live performance of Nessun Dorma from Joe Grimshaw prior to kick-off.
Penryn were first to threaten in the sixth minute when Morgan Vallejo – who enjoyed a four-goal haul of his own against Sticker earlier in the season – found space in the box to fire at goal, only to be denied by Clark’s timely block.
Clark soon made his presence felt at the other end when he got his head on Barner’s corner delivery, but the visitors were able to clear their lines.
Harry Pope’s side were enjoying a decent start to the match and perhaps should have done better with another chance when James Daniel found himself in space when receiving a cross, but dragged his first-time effort well wide of Barnes’ goal.
Town were beginning to find their feet with Luke Brabyn shooting wide before Jack Webber skied his effort from 20 yards out, but the hosts were somewhat fortunate when Boase found the car park from a promising free-kick on the edge of the box after James Ward had fouled Vallejo.
But the majority of the bumper four-figure crowd were celebrating for the first time ten minutes before the break when Robathan sent a goal kick straight onto the chest of Bray-Evans. The in-form frontman did the rest, holding off the challenge of one defender before gently knocking the ball past Robathan and into the net via the inside of the right post.
Clark almost made it 2-0 two minutes later when he saw his header come back off the upright, but the experienced centre-half had to wait just seven minutes to land his first goal of the season. Barner’s corner delivery reached the unmarked Brabyn, who saw his effort blocked on the line, with Clark on hand to rifle in the rebound from close range.
Town have made a habit of scoring goals either side of the interval, and Bray-Evans was able to repeat the trick in sensational style within two minutes of the restart with the goal of the game. A fine one-two between Bray-Evans and Barner saw the latter nod it into the former’s path, and he needed no second invitation to unleash an unstoppable volley into the top left corner.
Robathan had no chance with that strike but did superbly to claw Walker’s effort away from the opposite corner a couple of minutes later, before bailing out his defence again just after the hour when he stood firm to block Brabyn’s strike.
Penryn were doing a good job of keeping a rampant Town from adding a fourth, but the visitors’ afternoon soon went from bad to worse when second-half substitute McIlroy, on in place of skipper Russell May, was given his marching orders for a foul on Town sub Marcello Jones.
The inevitable happened in the 74th minute when ten-man Penryn were carved open again, with Jones laying off for Bray-Evans to complete his first treble in Town colours from close range.
Penryn were handed a chance to grab a consolation from the spot when Bradley Leivers hit the deck under Kirk Davies’ challenge inside the box. Boase stepped up but Barnes did brilliantly to make his third penalty save of the season, diving to his right and palming the strike to safety.
Substitute Wharton almost made it five late on but for another stop from Robathan, but it was that man Bray-Evans who capped off a superb day for him and for Town in the 83rd minute. With space opening up in front of him on the edge of the box, his 20-yard effort took a handy deflection off a Penryn body to leave the visiting gloveman no chance as the ball kissed the back of the net.
Falmouth: R Barnes, K Davies, T Moxham, A Calleja-Stayne, T Clark, J Ward, L Brabyn, J Webber (D Broglino 53), J Bray-Evans, L Barner (M Jones 58), O Walker (A Wharton 72). Subs (unused): T Annear, T Nixon.
Goals: Bray-Evans 35, 47, 74, 83; Clark 45.
Penryn: A Robathan, K McPhilbin, N Boase, B Leivers, B Williams, R May (J McIlroy HT), R Reeve, A Hayhoe (J Davies 60), K Cooke, M Vallejo, J Daniel. Subs (unused): C Powell, J Rapsey.