Falmouth Town fell to a damaging home defeat to Bridgwater United at Bickland Park in controversial circumstances on Saturday, with the referee playing no small part in the eventual outcome of the match, to the detriment of the home side.

With the exception of the injured Jack Webber and Kayden Gordon-Dunn, Town were able to field a full-strength squad coming into the game. Bridgwater welcomed back their top scorer, Jack Taylor, having re-signed him during the week as well as Josiah McKayle who also left recently following the well-publicised sacking of the previous manager Dave Pearse. They also gave a debut start for Luke Newman.

In front of another strong crowd of 467, Falmouth Town started on the front foot and launched a wave of attacks, mostly down the right-hand side through the ever-consistent Luke Barner. The first real chance of note came around 5 minutes in when an incisive through ball from Barner found the feet of Oscar Massey. He was through on goal but a heavy first touch, probably caused by the heavy pitch, meant that the keeper was able to gather the ball safely.

The Falmouth Town ground staff and a posse of willing volunteers on the morning of the match had done brilliantly to get the game on, when so many other games had been postponed, but the state of the pitch was not helping Falmouth’s passing game. Wide men, Barner and Olly Walker as well as Oscar Massey down the middle were trying to carry the ball and take on the experienced Bridgwater defence but the ball was frequently bobbling out of their control.

The first controversial incident came on 18 minutes when Ruben Wilson was put through on the left- hand edge of the box. As he shaped for the cross or shot, he was shouldered in the back and went down for what looked like a clear penalty. Unbelievably for the majority in the ground, the referee waved the appeal away. It looked like a mistake from the referee but much worse was to follow….

The game continued with Falmouth Town having the majority of the play and the Bridgwater defence dealing comfortably with anything that reached them. Walker down the left started to get the better of his full back but the Town forwards were unable to get on the end of any crosses he was able to deliver. As the pitch cut up, there were a few heavy challenges which the ref was quick to punish with yellow cards.

The half finished at 0-0 with Town dominating and no chances of note having been created by Bridgwater. This was to be the case in the 2nd half as well, but it didn’t stop the visitors from scoring what proved to be the winning goal 3 minutes in.

A long ball was played over the top of the Town defence and after having looked like it had been dealt with, the ball fell to Jack Thorne. He looked up and saw that Coxhead in the Falmouth goal had come off his line, presumably to deal with the initial through ball. Thorne then played a deft chip over the keeper from well outside of the box with the ball creeping agonisingly inside the far post with Coxhead scrambling to keep it out. 1-0 very much against the run of play.

Falmouth seemed to take a while to get over this blow and struggled to create any further chances of note until on 17 minutes, Rubin Wilson ran on to a through ball again on the left-hand side of the box. However he was only able hit the side netting at the near post. From an almost identical position 2 minutes later, Luke Barner again hit the side netting when through. Two good chances that needed to be taken in such a tight match.

Falmouth made a series of changes, starting with Calleja-Stayne being replaced by Tom Fisher after about 5 minutes, possibly as a precautionary measure given he had already been booked. Jacob Grange soon followed for James Swan in an attacking move from Andy Westgarth as Town searched for the Equaliser. Brabyn for Barner and Wharton for Walker followed but Bridgwater defended superbly as they blocked cross after cross as Falmouth tried to feed Rubin Wilson. Given the conditions, sometimes an earlier cross would have been advisable, as Town continue to adapt to the fact that they now have an aerial threat in the box.

The last 10 minutes saw Falmouth lay siege to the Bridgwater box but it all looked to no avail until deep into injury time a free-kick was given 10 yards outside the Bridgwater goal area. As the kick was being set up, skipper James Ward chose to position himself in an offside position in front of the away keeper Isaac Finch. As Tom Annear shaped up to take the kick, Ward ran away and Annear hit the target with a dipping shot out of the keepers reach. The crowd went wild, but the referee decided to consult his lineman who had not even raised his flag. After some consultation, the referee decided to disallow the goal and give the goal kick to Bridgwater. A very questionable decision as Ward was not interfering with play as he did not obstruct the goalkeeper or his view of the ball. The only thought being that the referee saw Ward’s original positioning as gamesmanship.

The game ended with a 1-0 win to the away side who hardly had a shot at goal in the whole game but took their chance when it came and defended superbly throughout. It was a great day for local rivals Helston who didn’t kick a ball but saw two of their closest rivals drop points with this loss for Falmouth and league leaders Clevedon losing 1-0 at home to St Blazey. Falmouth now have a massive week ahead with a Senior Cup tie at home to St Blazey on Tuesday night and the big FA Vase tie at home to Hartpury University next Saturday. Both games should draw big crowds as Town try to continue their runs in their two favourite cup competitions. However they will have to do it without their two new strikers, Massey and Wilson who are both cup-tied in both competitions.

Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead, James Swan, Bradley Leivers, Andreas Calleja-Stayne, Tom Annear, James Ward, Luke Barner, Jared Sims, Rubin Wilson, Oscar Massey, Olly Walker. Subs: Alex Wharton, Cameron Hutchison, Jacob Grange, Tom Fisher, Luke Brabyn.

Bridgwater United: Isaac Finch, Dave Thorne, Jake Lllewellyn, Luke Newman, Ross McErlan, George King, Morgan Williams, Tom Llewellyn, Jack Taylor, Jack Thorne, Jay Murray. Subs: Jos Phillips. Mark Armstrong, Fran Sousa, Ben Griffiths, Josiah McKayle.

Match day moments and highlights by Will Hedgecock.