Falmouth Town manager Andrew Westgarth was pleased with the character his side showed as they began the defence of their Cornwall Senior Cup crown with a 2-1 win over South West Peninsula League outfit Bude Town on Wednesday night.
Olly Walker, making his first start of the season, gave Town the lead after half an hour at Bickland Park with a fine individual effort, gliding past two defenders before chipping goalkeeper Liam Hill from the edge of the box.
But the SWPL Premier West leaders got themselves back on terms midway through the second half when Billy Hopcroft fired in the rebound after Ryan Barnes had saved Baga Mariko’s strike.
The cup holders eventually got their noses back in front, however, with Luke Barner finishing off a good team move from close range to clinch Town’s place in the second round draw, which will take place on Wednesday at 4.30pm.
“I don’t think we started the best,” Westgarth said after the game. “For the first 35 minutes we were way off it and Bude will rue their misses because they had a lot of half chances and probably should have stuck them away.
“But after about 35, 40 minutes we managed to settle into the game and had little bit of magic from Olly Walker – probably the only bright spark for us. In the second half we were so much better. In the first 25, 30 minutes of that second half it was like watching another team, we were full of energy, we were on the front foot and we had plenty of chances.
“It was really disappointing to concede but there was great character from the lads and [Barner] does what he does to arrive in the box and score a great goal. It was a really good team goal and worthy of winning any game, I thought.”
He added: “We had some key personnel missing today and had to shuffle the pack a little bit. We brought Kirk [Davies] in who hasn’t played for a while and he was excellent back there and we had to put Dre [Andreas Calleja-Stayne] in at centre-half who I thought was outstanding.
“It shows the strength of the squad and we’re getting back to it now. I think in all competitions that’s one defeat in six and those sort of things you’ve got to build on and we’ve got to build on that momentum.
“Tonight was a great opportunity for Bude to beat us and I think they’ll regret that. For us, it’s another win and it’s great to bounce back after losing to Mousehole because we want to do well here.”
Walker’s fine solo goal was the high point of a subdued first 45 minutes from a Falmouth perspective, with the winger bringing Bickland Park to life with a wonderful chip over Hill to open the scoring.
The goal was his second in as many games and Westgarth praised the recent impact of his returning forward, who was making only his third appearance of the campaign after missing the first two months.
“He’s grabbing [the opportunity] with both hands. Players this year have had plenty of opportunities to grab their shirt and you’ve got to give full credit to Olly Walker. He just gives us something completely different: he’s direct and he makes things happen.
“He got his goal on Saturday and he looked like, for large spells, our best outlet [on Wednesday night]. His goal was a great bit of magic and that’s what he does, he’s been really good and it’s great to have him.”
Walker also provided the assist for Barner’s winning goal in the 73rd minute, running onto Jack Bray-Evans’ through ball before squaring it for Barner to smash into the net from close range.
The goal was his second of the campaign – with both coming in front of the Packet End – and Barner was thrilled to have the decisive say in Town’s cup win.
“It was a great move and [coach Charlie Davis] alluded to it in the huddle at the end. Jack [Bray-Evans] puts the through ball to Olly [Walker] and I always know in that position at two vs one against the ‘keeper it’s always going to get rolled across because we’re quite an unselfish team. It was good to get the goal, but it was a good team goal at that.”
Barner hailed the recent return of attacking partners Bray-Evans and Walker, who have impressed in the last couple of games after both have missed the bulk of the season so far.
The duo linked up to provide Barner with his winning goal on Wednesday night, and their return brings Town’s formidable attacking contingent – which also includes Tim Nixon, Alex Wharton, Luke Brabyn, Charlie Edney and Oliver Pickup – back up to full strength.
“It’s been a miss having Jack because he links up the play quite well, he drops deep and that’s what leaves the space in behind for myself and whoever’s on the wing or in the 10 to exploit that,” Barner said.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals because we’re all contributing and we know that, so it’s good to get back as more of a unit up front.”
Barner also echoed the team’s desire to respond from last week’s first home loss of the season to Mousehole, adding: “No-one wants to get beaten at home so we were itching to get back here and put that straight and I’m glad we did that tonight regardless of the competition or who we were against.”