‘Our season started today’ – Westgarth on Clevedon win

Falmouth Town manager Andrew Westgarth said it felt like his team’s season started on Saturday when his near full-strength side thrashed Clevedon Town 4-0 to record their first Western League win of the season.

After suffering from a raft of player absences in the summer holiday period, Town were able to field most of their regular first-team players for the first time this season – and they wasted little time in making their presence felt.

James Swan opened the scoring after 13 minutes before Nixon netted either side of Alex Wharton’s close-range finish to give Town a handsome four-goal lead at the break.

The second half was a much quieter affair with the work having been done in the first 45 minutes, with Town comfortably closing out their first Western League victory since 1983.

“We’ve got that monkey off our back and I’m absolutely pleased with it,” Westgarth said after the game. “It felt like our season started today, it’s been well documented how many players we’ve had missing or unavailable whereas today was the complete opposite. 

“We had a full bench and it was the first time we were able to utilise the five-sub rule and today was the perfect day for it, it was so hot. I’m so proud of the boys today. 

“I thought we were clinical in front of goal in the first half when we did all the damage. The second half was a non-event but I thought we showed the other side of our game and keeping the clean sheet was brilliant. 

“They had a couple of chances in the second half and Barnesy made a couple of good saves. We had a bit of a wobble but it’s hard to keep that intensity and that mindset going for a full 90 minutes, but the most important thing was getting that three points.”

The match was over as a contest by half time after a devastatingly clinical first 45 minutes from the hosts, with Swan’s fine strike from 20 yards and Nixon’s close-range finish putting Town two goals to the good after 26 minutes.

Nixon turned provider for the third when his corner delivery was helped on by Tom Annear to Wharton, who rifled the ball home from eight yards, with Nixon capping off a fine half by drilling a low, hard free kick into the bottom corner from just outside the box.

“[It was] lovely to watch,” Westgarth said. “Some of the interchanges in play we did, some of the crossing, some of the passing was an absolute pleasure, and we’ve always had that. If you look at the attacking players we’ve got in our side there’s goals everywhere and that was evident today. 

“Nixy is a big player for us and showed two moments of quality, Alex is getting better every game and that’s two in two, and Swanny, again, he’s a young lad coming into it and he’s got two in two as well. 

“It’s great, there’s competition for places now and I thought the boys that came on [were excellent]. When you’re bringing on [Scott] Kellow, [Luke] Brabyn, [Luke] Barner, Cam [Hutchison] and Charlie Edney, we haven’t had that all season. I’m delighted, it felt like my team today.”

A combination of the scoreline and the searing heat meant the second half was a bit of a damp squib for any neutrals in attendance at Bickland Park.

Goalkeeper Ryan Barnes still had a job on to preserve his clean sheet, however, with the long-serving custodian producing a fine save on his line to thwart Archie Ferris before racing out to deny Ethan Feltham in a one-on-one late on.

“Clean sheets mean a lot to [goalkeepers], just like when the centre-forwards want to score, Barnesy wants to keep a clean sheet,” Westgarth said. 

“He’s after records himself and I think the one he saved on the line from the big lad at the back post was a brilliant save. 

“His kicking was good today, his talking has always been good and he was excellent up at Millbrook even though we lost 3-1. He’s had a great start to the season, hopefully now he can kick on and put together a good run of games.”

It was midfielder Jack Webber who collected the club’s man of the match award, however, with the 22-year-old producing another assured display in the centre of the park.

“He was excellent,” Westgarth said. “I think he was unlucky not to win it last week against Saltash, but goals win games and the strikers get the headlines but Webby just bosses it.

“When he’s on, we’re on, he makes us tick and it just gives players confidence. They trust him to give them the ball and he makes us a better team.”