Resilience pleases Westgarth in Willand draw

Falmouth Town brought an end to their pre-season friendly schedule with a 2-2 draw at home to Southern League Division 1 South outfit Willand Rovers on Saturday.

Will Richards opened the scoring for Willand midway through the first half at Bickland Park with a fine finish into the bottom corner after cutting inside from the left, only for Andreas Calleja-Stayne to instantly level the scores for Town with a close-range finish.

A rare mistake from Town goalkeeper Ryan Barnes, who dropped a catch in front of Josh Baker, allowed the Willand man to nod into an empty net shortly before the break, but a fine lobbed finish from Jack Bray-Evans after the turnaround rescued a draw that Town more than deserved against their higher-division opponents.

The game brought an end to Town’s pre-season friendly schedule, with Andrew Westgarth’s side ending their six-match run with a record of three wins, two defeats and a draw, ahead of their first Western League game for 39 years at home to Wellington this Saturday.

“Today was a typical pre-season game,” Westgarth said at full-time. “I thought they had a little bit about them and I thought we showed a little bit of resilience. Obviously we’ve still got personnel away, some big players missing for us, but for large spells we did alright. 

“We scored two good goals from our point of view. The first one might not have been pretty on the eye but I was really pleased with the manner in which we scored it, just after conceding and going straight up the other end and scoring. 

“It was disappointing for Barnesy to go 2-1 down at half-time but it didn’t really change my team talk too much, then JBE [Bray-Evans] scores that great finish and then in the last 20 minutes the game just dies. There’s definitely areas we need to work on for sure, but there were positives as well.”

A common theme of this pre-season campaign has been Westgarth’s desire to integrate a number of the players from Ryan Martt’s St Piran League side within the first team, with Max Everall, Jak Davies and Jude Warr all playing their part in Saturday’s draw.

They follow in the footsteps of fellow second team players Charlie Edney, Zach Telling, Reggie May, Oli Pickup, Ethan Jorey and Jasper Turner, who have all featured in at least one first-team fixture throughout July.

The usual player absences at this time of year has meant Westgarth’s hand has been forced at times, but he has been thrilled with how they have risen to the challenge of life among the first team.

“We’ve been really fortunate this pre-season,” he said. “You can look at it two ways but we’ve given opportunities to a lot of the St Piran boys, I think in every game we’ve had one or two playing and they’ve all done really well. 

“If they’ve got any aspirations of playing first-team football this is the place to be, isn’t it. I like to give the boys a chance and if they do the business then there is every chance they can stay in the side.

“I’m absolutely delighted for them because it’s a big step up now because it’s not the SWPL anymore, it’s the Western League.”