BARNSTAPLE TOWN 1-2 FALMOUTH TOWN (FA VASE)
Falmouth Town continued their impressive run in the FA Vase with this win away to their fellow Western League title-chasers Barnstaple Town on a chilly day in front of around 250 onlookers.
Falmouth welcomed back speedy winger Ollie Walker from injury but were missing Luke Barner and Jacob Grange through suspension, Ruben Wilson was cup-tied and Jack Webber was still unavailable through injury. Young striker Jayden Gilbert was also not present having signed for St Blazey. Barnstaple started Stuart Bowker on the bench, presumably as still carrying a knock from the sides’ last encounter a week ago. Oscar Massey took Bowker’s place up-front. Ex-Helston schemer Matty Bye started his first game for Barnstaple after presumably signing during the week. Chris Shepard was not named after his debut goal last week.
The game started with Barnstaple having the lion’s share of the ball with anything loose being won by the home sides experienced midfield. Matty Bye was noticeably influential. However, Barnstaple were playing a high line which some might say might have played into Falmouth’s hands with their pacey trio of Walker, Wharton and Brabyn.
On 9 minutes, Falmouth won a free kick on the right touch-line, half-way in to the Barnstaple half. An excellent delivery from Tom Annear found James Ward on the far post and he headed the ball home to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Barnstaple continued to dominate with Falmouth looking dangerous on the break. Oscar Massey for Barnstaple looked threatening with the ball at his feet, accelerating away from the Falmouth defence on one occasion to set up a chance.
Falmouth just couldn’t get their wide players Wharton and Walker into the game, given their lack of dominance in the midfield.
Falmouth as usual were defending well though and Bradley Leivers was impeccable, hardly giving the ball away, reading the game well leading to several interceptions and winning his battles with the Barnstaple wide mid-fielder when he was able to engage with him. He looks increasingly comfortable at this level having only joined from Peninsula league Newquay in the summer.
The half continued with Barnstaple winning a few corners and heading narrowly wide on one occasion with Falmouth threatening when going forward.
Ollie Walker broke through on 40 minutes but was caught between taking the last man on or playing in Brabyn, and the ball ran to safety. In the 5th minute of first-half stoppage time, Ollie Walker put Alex Wharton through with only the keeper to beat. However Wharton could not make it pay as the ball cleared the crossbar from a powerful shot.
The half ended at 1-0 and despite Barnstaple’s general dominance, Falmouth may have been ruing missing the two late chances they created.
Falmouth manager Andy Westgarth made a presumably tactical substitution at half-time replacing Cam Hutchison with Tom Fisher, and Fisher seemed to have been detailed to shadow Matty Bye in the Barnstaple midfield to nullify his influence. If this was the plan, it seemed to work as Falmouth started to find Ollie Walker, who had been switched to his preferred left side.
Barnstaple continued to get their defence up the pitch which stopped Town from playing and they seemed to be first to any loose balls, but were not really creating anything. However, it was proving a risky strategy as about 10 minutes in, Walker broke clear down the left, raced past his full back and cut in to hit a powerful shot just over the bar. Another good chance for Falmouth. 10 minutes later and a defensive error let Olly Walker in down the left again. This time he made no mistake beating the keeper on his far post. 2-0 to Falmouth.
Within 5 minutes Barnstaple decided to make a change bringing Stuart Bowker and Tommy Rodgers off the bench to provide more of a physical threat. Oscar Massey and captain Billy Tucker coming off. However it was Falmouth who had the next chance on 31 minutes as Brabyn broke clear with only the keeper to beat, but on a bobbly pitch his shot cleared the bar.
Town were looking comfortable, until in the 47th Minute, a free-kick was conceded a few yards outside of the Falmouth area. The strike hit the post, ricocheted across the goal and was tapped in by Brodie Montague to set up a nervous last few minutes for Falmouth, especially given the number of chances they had created to put the game out of the home team’s reach. In fact, Barnstaple nearly got an equaliser 3 minutes later as the ball broke to Bowker in the 6 yard box, but he could only put the chance over the bar. After what must have been over 10 minutes of injury time, the ref finally blew up and Falmouth were through. Cue great celebrations as the Falmouth players went over to their fans to thank them for their support. The F-Troop never stopped singing all game and seemed to comfortably outnumber the home fans.
All in all, an excellent result from this fast-improving Falmouth Town side as they enter the 4th round of the FA Vase for the first time since their historic trip to Northumberland to play Bedlington Terriers in 2000/2001. Four games to Wembley. Home draw next please.
DARE TO DREAM!
Barnstaple Town: Liam Kingston. Joe Edmonds. Scott Laird. George Russell. Brodie Montague. Nathan Colley. Matt Andrew. Matty Bye. Oscar Massey. Tor Swann. Billy Tucker . Subs: Myles Perkins. Stuart Bowker. Jamie Hearsey. Joe Grigg. Charlie Prentice. Harvey Dennis.
Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead. James Ward, James Swan, Tom Annear. Bradley Leivers. Ollie Walker. Jared Sims. Andreas Caleja-Stayne. Cam Hutchison. Alex Wharton. Luke Brabyn. Subs: Max Everall. Tom Fisher. Charlie Edney. Andrew Westgarth.