Falmouth Town’s dream in this year’s FA Vase campaign as they bowed out in this quarter-final loss against their fiercely competitive hosts Great Wakering Rovers, in front a large crowd curiously counted at 694, although a figure of double that looked more realistic.

Falmouth Town had to ring the changes in comparison to their normal league line-up with strikers Oscar Massey and Rubin Wilson cup-tied and James Swan and Luke Barner suspended. Max Everall was ruled out through injury and was replaced on the bench by Connor McCarthy, another of second team manager Jon Perrow’s crop of promising young players. First team manager Andy Westgarth opted to call up former striker Jordan Annear who now plays for Malvern Town in the Southern League South, which meant that Luke Brabyn could fill the wide-right position in Luke Barner’s absence.

The game started at a great pace with neither side being able to settle but it was only after 3 minutes that Falmouth forced the first half-chance. A cross-cum shot from Cam Hutchison from the left flashed across the goal and Brabyn slid in at the far post but was just unable to get a touch, despite being at full-stretch, and the ball rolled out for a goal-kick.

One minute later and it was Great Wakering’s turn as a through ball was latched on to by Ben Search but Morgan Coxhead in the Falmouth goal made a great save to keep the scores level.

On a bobbly pitch, Falmouth could not get their normal game going and hence could not get any service to the dangerous Olly Walker down the left, although he did look the most threatening when he did manage to run at his full back. Time and time again Falmouth could not play the correct final ball beyond the stubborn home defence with an out-stretched limb or header blocking the way. Jared Sims and Cam Hutchison could not get the ball down under real pressure from the combative midfield of Thaomas Barton and Charlie Kendall and Falmouth resorted to getting the ball forward early to Annear. However, match-winner from the previous round, Perry Dunn, was excellent all game and would not let Annear have any space.

The first half was fairly even with Great Wakering forcing a series of corners which were well defended by Falmouth, but the game continued to be played at a frenetic pace with no clear-cut chances being created. That was until the 32nd minute. A home corner from the left was headed out to Jake Gordon who hit it first time. The ball was heading into the top corner but Coxhead shot one hand out and tipped the ball over the bar. The save of the game and Falmouth were still in it.

The 40th minute and it was Town’s turn to threaten. A long-throw from the right by Brabyn found the head of Annear at the near post but he could only head over, and the half finished goal-less.

With the slight wind at their backs, Falmouth would have felt confident that they could start taking the game to Great Wakering in the 2nd half but the pattern of the game remained unchanged with the midfield being largely by-passed by both sides.

On 20 minutes came the moment which ultimately started Town’s demise. A break down the right wing resulted in a cross into the box, the ball rolled to the far post and then took a massive bobble which Town’s defence were unable to deal with and danger-man Harry Talbot appeared to sweep the ball into the net. 1-0 to Great Wakering Rovers.

With 25 minutes to go the game was still alive and Westgarth made his first change replacing Ollie Walker with Jack Webber and changing to 4-4-2 with Brabyn joining Annear up-front. However, Town still couldn’t get any meaningful control of the game and with 10 minutes to go, disaster struck with Rovers being awarded a penalty by the excellent referee who had full control throughout. The ball was again crossed in from the left but could not be cleared from the far post area, and Great Wakering sub Max Gnandi, who looked a real threat when he came on, nipped in and stole the ball before falling over an out-stretched leg and claiming the penalty. Harry Talbot stepped up and made no mistake to send the home support into a frenzy.

Falmouth had rarely threatened the Rovers defence all game and it was now a long way back if they were to salvage something. Brabyn was withdrawn for Kian Thomas and Jared Sims for Tom Fisher and Town forced some corners, but were thwarted by some great blocks and generally efficient defending. Despite 6 minutes of injury time, the score remained at 2-0, much to the disappointment of the large travelling support. The F-Troop again belied their lesser numbers (estimated at an impressive 300+) to out-sing the home support in a bid to push their team on but it was not to be.

Falmouth must now look forward to another important cup-tie on Tuesday night at St Blazey where they must over-come Newquay in the Cornwall Senior Cup semi-final, to keep their hopes alive of another trophy-winning season. The league games will then come thick and fast starting with a tough visit to fellow high-flyers Bridgwater on Saturday as they come to the business end of the season. The dream of Wembley glory may now be over but the chance of promotion to the Southern League, and hence the highest ever level of football seen at Bickland Park remains. However, this may be at the expense on another FA Vase campaign as Falmouth would then be entered into the FA Trophy instead.

Goals – Harry Talbot 2

Att. 694.

Great Wakering Rovers: Lewis Shamshoun, Kingdom Dawson, Jack Nolde, Thaomas Barton, Harrison Topliss, Perry Dunn, Harry Talbot, Charlie Kendall, Callum Boylan, Ben Search, Jake Gordon.

Subs: Danny Cossington, Oliver Jenkins, Caiden Imbert-Thomas, Billy Johnson, Max Gnandi, Beau McDonald, Joe Burgess.