Falmouth Town recorded another momentous victory in their journey through the rounds of this year’s FA Vase competition, with a comprehensive victory over their much-fancied opponents from Gloucestershire.

Falmouth Town welcomed back to the matchday squad the ever-popular Ryan Barnes as cover for goalkeeper Morgan Coxhead, but were missing Kayden Gordon-Dunn who is injured and strike pair Rubin Wilson and Oscar Massey who frustratingly are cup-tied. However, Falmouth were able to call upon an influential 12th man with the Town faithful, and particularly the F-Troop, putting in a performance unprecedented in modern times. From the parade and guard of honour performed by the Falmouth Marine Band before the kick-off, and then the relentless noise, music and singing from the F-Troop throughout the game, it must have been an intimidating experience for the young Hartpury side. Falmouth got it just right and credit must go to the club for making such a spectacle of the day and capturing the imagination of the whole town. Many new fans must have forged a lasting allegiance to the club after having experienced such a great day.

Falmouth started the game on top as they got after Hartpury with their constant high-energy pressing forcing some uncertain defending in the first few minutes. That being said, Hartpury were looking to get the ball forward early to their very mobile and tricky No:9, King Baidoo. On three occasions in the first 10 minutes, tackles or interceptions were missed and Hartpury broke away but were not able to capitalise on the errors. A tough game looked likely.

Falmouth were still dominating possession though, and on 12 minutes they made the break-through. A ball over the top of the Hartpury defence was not dealt with and under pressure from Luke Brabyn, who turned in his usual tireless display up front, the ball broke to Luke Barner. He pushed the ball past Steve Starkodie in the Hartpury goal who then caught Barner whilst trying to gather the ball. Penalty to Falmouth and the majority in the crowd held their breath as they wondered who was going to step up to take the kick. Falmouth’s recent patchy success with penalties being considered. Up walked the experienced Jared Sims and he slotted the ball comfortably to the keepers right to make the score 1-0.

Falmouth’s defence were starting to get the measure of the Hartpury forwards and very little was created by them for the remainder of the half until the 36th minute. Hartpury got behind the defence and Tom Annear raced across to make a last-ditch sliding tackle inside of the area to stop a probable Hartpury goal. Any misjudgment of the tackle from Annear would have meant a penalty and a sending off.

The half finished at 1-0 to Town but there was a feeling that Hartpury would commit more men forward in the second half and start giving Falmouth a few more problems, given their excellent league record. In the event, this did not happen and if anything, Town’s mean defence dealt comfortably with anything Hartpury had to offer. Captain James Ward was imperious against Baidoo who arguably looked one of the best players on the pitch when he could get the ball with some excellent lay-offs, turns and pacey runs in-behind. However, Ward’s dominance was such that Baidoo’s influence became less and less. A brilliant defensive display from Ward, ably supported by Leivers, Annear and Jacob Grange.

Falmouth still needed the second goal to calm the nerves of another massive home crowd and Andy Westgarth made what turned out to be a match-winning substitution after 22 minutes of the half had elapsed. Cam Hutchison was replaced by James Swan who slotted in at right back, Barner moved in to Hutchison’s No:10 position and Grange went to right midfield. Five minutes later and the change bore fruit. A Tom Annear corner from the left caused havoc in the Hartpury area and the ball fell to Grange at the far-post. Jacob Grange coolly shifted the ball past the defender and lashed a shot to the right of the keeper. Although getting a good hand on it, he could not stop the goal as the ball crept just inside the post. Cue great celebrations at the Packet End as the whole team joined in, as well as the Town subs.

As Hartpury struggled to respond, the next incident of note came in their own area. On 39 minutes Luke Barner looked to be in on goal but the Hartpury defender barged into Barner with what seemed like little regard for where the ball was. Amidst some vociferous calls for a penalty from the packed Packet End, the appeal was waved away by the ref, who had turned in a calm and authoritative performance throughout. He was helped by two well-behaved and respectful teams who played the game in the right way and gave very little for him to do.

Six minutes of stoppage time was added but Hartpury could not threaten the Town goal. The midfield of Calleja-Stayne, Sims and Barner would not let Hartpury gain any meaningful possession and Town were through to the next round.

The victorious Falmouth team went to salute the F-Troop in the Packet End who had done so much to drive the team on and the players ended up leading the singing of the Town anthem “Sweet Falmouth Town”. A very special moment!

Falmouth now go into the hat for the 5th round which is drawn on Monday lunch-time. Amongst the remaining teams are Jersey Bulls, which would make for a special away-day. However, surely Falmouth Town’s management will be hoping for another home-tie to recreate and probably better the fantastic experience of this historic day at Bickland Park.

Attendance 608.

Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead, Jacob Grange, Bradley Leivers, Andreas Calleja-Stayne, Tom Annear, James Ward, Luke Barner, Jared Sims, Luke Brabyn, Cam Hutchison, Olly Walker. Subs: Alex Wharton, Jack Webber, Tom Fisher, James Swan, Max Everall, Ryan Barnes.

Hartpury University: Steve Starkodie, Leon Machisa, Drew Robinson, George Sims, Josh Roney, Kian Kang, Louis Manning, Alex Hainault, King Baidoo, Riley MacGregor, Ben Baxter. Subs: Charlie McNamara, Owen Giles, Oscar McClure, Jacob Towns, Luke Salter, Mike Symons.

Match Day Highlights from Will Hedgecock.