Falmouth Town continued their recent run of good form with a narrow 1-0 victory against their second placed neighbours Helston Athletic in front of a massive Boxing Day crowd of 1845 at Bickland Park.

Falmouth needed a result on the day as, going into the game, they could not catch Helston, even with their 3 games in hand. They did not disappoint as they extended their unbeaten run to 7 and ended the visitors nine game run without defeat.

Falmouth started without their captain James Ward who was suspended after the previous game against Saltash. This meant that Andreas Calleja-Stayne had to drop back into central defence and Tom Fisher slotted in to the side in the centre of midfield. Jack Webber and Kayden Gordon-Dunn are still injured although Webber should be available in the new year. Helston were without one of their top performers this season as Jordan Copp was unavailable.

The game started with honours fairly even until the 9th minute. A poor pass back from a Helston central defender was chased down by Town’s Oscar Massey who beat Kyle Moore to the ball. He rode the challenge and stroked the ball into the empty net in front of the Town faithful in the packed Packet End.

The game then settled into a pattern as Helston started to dominate the possession, with Town being forced to play long balls up to Rubin Wilson, who was having to contend with two of the most effective central defenders in the league in Harrison Jewell and Jordan Bentley. Town were reduced to a few counter attacks with the pace of Ollie Walker, Oscar Massey and Luke Brabyn always providing a potential threat.

Helston were getting some success out wide with Sam Carter down the left and Ricki Shepherd operating down the right. However, the Town defence held firm and it was in fact Luke Brabyn for Town who created the closest thing to another goal in the first half as he shot low and hard and just scraped the right-hand post of Moore’s goal. Town weathered a few more attacks, corners and free-kicks with their defence being equal to everything. Stand-in Centre Back Caleja-Stayne, who ultimately was made man-of-the-match by the Town coaches was immense in his defensive duties.

The half finished with the home side hanging on to a 1-0 lead, but right from the start of the 2nd half, Helston stepped up their domination and all Town could do was clear their lines, and hence return the ball to Helston to start another attack. Calleja-Stayne was being missed in the midfield but he had an able replacement in Tom Fisher who belied his lack of experience at this level with a tireless display in what was such a big game.

On 24 minutes, manager Andy Westgarth made the first change with Rubin Wilson being replaced by Luke Barner who took over the No.10 role with Oscar Massey taking up the lone striker role. Massey struggled, as did Wilson, with having to try to retain the ball, it having been cleared to him from deep, after wave after wave of Helston attacks were thwarted. However, Barner’s energy did start to have an effect in breaking up the Helston play and regaining the ball for the home side on occasions.

Helston were unlucky to only hit the bar after another attack mid-way through the half as Town continued to hang on. Morgan Coxhead was dealing with everything that fell to him, and is now looking much more assured in his first season with the club. With less than 10 minutes left, Helston had a penalty turned down after a challenge from Tom Annear, who looked to have caught the Helston forward during his follow-through. Many in the ground felt that the ref should have pointed to the spot. A few minutes later and it was Bradley Leivers who made another challenge in the box which prompted further penalty claims. Again, many of the crowd expected the ref to rule against Falmouth but it was not to be.

In the end it was a resolute defensive performance which enabled the league’s meanest defence to keep out the league’s most prolific goal-scorers, as the game finished at 1-0 to Falmouth Town. Town gaining revenge on the defeat suffered in the league cup earlier in the season. There was a certain symmetry here, as in that game Town had the majority of the play but could not break down the Helston defence. This time the tables were turned.

Falmouth’s next match is away to struggling Millbrook, so they will hope to gain another three points in their quest for the league title. A massive few weeks then awaits, as Town face fellow title hopefuls Bridgwater United, and then it’s their 5th round home FA Vase tie against Hartpury, as they bid to be the 2nd Cornish team ever to make it to Wembley.

Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead, James Swan, Tom Annear©, Andreas Calleja-Stayne, Bradley Leivers. Jared Sims, Tom Fisher, Ollie Walker, Luke Brabyn, Oscar Massey, Ruben Wilson.

Helston Athletic: Kyle Moore, Callum Martindale, Jordan Bentley, Harrison Jewell©, Dave Barker, Tom Payne, Steve Colwill, Jacob Smith, Sam Carter, Curtis Damerell, Ricky Shepherd.