Barnstaple win ‘huge’ for us – Westgarth

Falmouth Town manager Andrew Westgarth hailed his side’s astonishing 5-4 win over Barnstaple Town on Saturday as a ‘huge’ win for his team.

Tim Nixon nodded Town into an early lead in their Western League encounter at Bickland Park before Callum Laird levelled for the Devonians before the break.

The hosts took control of the game just after the hour with three goals in nine minutes from Nixon and Luke Brabyn (2), but Barum fought back to draw level at 4-4 thanks to two strikes from Laird to complete his hat-trick and another from Matt Andrew.

But just when it looked like Town had thrown the game away, Tom Annear converted a penalty in the second minute of stoppage time to complete an incredible victory.

The nature of the last-gasp win sparked wild celebrations at the final whistle, with the win proving all the more valuable at the end of a week that saw striker Jack Bray-Evans depart for Mousehole and first-team coach Charlie Davis exit the club to take a break from football.

“I’d like to question any manager who thinks at 4-1 up you haven’t won the game – they didn’t even look like scoring,” Westgarth said. “They’re a hard team to play against: very direct, they get you turning a lot.

“Weirdly, I know it sounds like a stupid thing to say, but defensively we actually dealt with most things. It was just frustrating that every goal was a carbon copy: a shot off against Barnesy and they had the rebound. 

“But I’m immensely proud of the boys. With Jack [Bray-Evans] going, Luke Brabyn led the line and he was outstanding. I know he missed a couple of chances but he’s made a big contribution to the game. [Tim] Nixon hasn’t started a game for weeks and has had two great finishes. 

“I’m just so proud of the boys because a lot gets questioned and asked about us and I think today showed that we are a good side.”

Annear was the man of the hour as the centre-half scored the decisive goal from the spot – his second of the season following a long-range effort against Millbrook – in the second minute of injury time.

With Town on the ropes having just conceded three goals without reply to surrender a three-goal lead, they came forward one last time to try and find an unlikely winner.

Olly Walker surged into the box and was brought down by Barum gloveman Liam Kingston but referee Ryan Cornelius waved play on, only to award a penalty seconds later when Kingston then brought down Cam Hutchison.

With all regular takers having been substituted, Annear grabbed the ball and sent Kingston the wrong way from the spot to finally put an end to a topsy-turvy afternoon.

“There was a moment when the penalty was given when we were thinking, ‘Who’s going to take it?’” Westgarth said. “Nixon was off, Brabyn was off, [Luke] Barner was off and that man [Annear] grabbed the ball with confidence and stuck it away lovely. 

“I thought he was going to blast it and then the ‘keeper’s gone one way and he’s just put it away [into the other corner]. I’m absolutely delighted for Tom. He’s had a great season this year, he’s Mr Consistent. 

“You want your leaders, you want your big players to perform at big moments, and from the outside looking in people might just think it’s a league game, it’s December, it means nothing, but for us as a team and as a group, it’s huge.”