FALMOUTH TOWN 2-1 SALTASH UNITED
Falmouth Town emerged victorious from a challenging game in the Toolstation Western League against fellow Cornish side Saltash United, courtesy of a goal apiece from their two new forwards Rubin Wilson and Oscar Massey, on a gloomy afternoon at Bickland Park.
Massey, signed from Barnstaple Town on Thursday, started on the bench alongside Brabyn, Fisher, Everall and manager Andy Westgarth. Olly Walker was not available, and Jack Webber and Kayden Gordon-Dunn remain injured.
Saltash belied their current lowly league ranking from the off as they really took the game to Falmouth. Looking fit and strong throughout their side, they would not allow Falmouth to settle on the ball. However, Falmouth stayed in it and after 9 minutes, and against the run of play, Alex Wharton played a ball through the Saltash defence which Rubin Wilson ran on to halfway in the Saltash half. With still lots to do, he shrugged off a challenge from a Saltash defender and carried the ball into the area before expertly putting the ball between the advancing keeper Jordan Duffey’s legs. From nowhere it was 1-0 to Falmouth and Wilson had made it two goals in two games.
The goal triggered a change in the game as Town started to dominate the play with Jared Sims in the midfield pulling the strings and retaining possession well. On 20 minutes, a move down the left resulted in Jacob Grange, who had a good first half tormenting his full back, again beat his man, ran into the area and hit a well-struck right foot shot which Duffey saved at full stretch.
On 33 minutes, Town lost the ball in the midfield and James Ward was caught out of position. The impressive Jake Curtis ran on to an excellent through ball into the space that Ward had vacated. With only Coxhead to beat, Curtis unleashed a strike which hit the post and rebounded to safety. Unlucky for Saltash as their general good play deserved an equaliser.
After 37 minutes, Bradley Leivers was replaced by Max Everall, presumably as a result of injury.
The half finished at 1-0 to Falmouth, but the game was far from over as Saltash were providing stiff opposition. It was hard to understand why they had scored so few goals in the league on this showing.
The second half started badly for Falmouth as Saltash broke down the left and the ball was played in to Jake Curtis who beat Coxhead by unleashing a shot low to his left-hand side. It was honours-even and no more than Saltash deserved.
Andy Westgarth reacted quickly to the set-back and within 5 minutes decided to introduce exciting new signing Oscar Massey along with Luke Brabyn. They replaced Jacob Grange and Cam Hutchison with Brabyn playing wide right and Massey taking up the No:10 role. This may have answered a few questions about how Westgarth planned to use Massey following his arrival. However, the changes didn’t immediately have any effect as Saltash continued to have the better of the half with their impressive work rate and fitness.
Despite their dominance, Saltash had a warning of what was to come on 30 minutes as Massey carried the ball and hit a powerful shot from the edge of the area which went narrowly wide. Two minutes later, Saltash were not so lucky. The ball broke to Oscar Massey in a central position around 10 yards outside the area and Massey unleashed a vicious effort that flew in to the top right-hand corner of the goal with Duffey powerless to stop it. A wonder goal worthy of winning any game and hopefully a taster of what is to come from the young striker.
Saltash were still not finished and on 37 minutes there was one final twist to the game as captain James Ward was sent off after having to drag down a Saltash forward before he was through on goal. Falmouth re-organised with Calleja-Stayne dropping back to play centre-back. A move which will probably have to be repeated on Boxing Day as Ward will surely be banned for that game. For the remaining minutes, including at least 7 minutes of added time it was mainly backs to the wall for Falmouth as Saltash made the extra man pay. However, they could not create any further chances apart from a succession of corners and the game finished at 2-1 to Falmouth, much to the delight of the majority of the 328 in the crowd.
Boxing Day sees Falmouth host league leaders Helston Athletic, and with Falmouth 11 points behind with 3 games in hand, a home win will be essential if Town are to continue to push to win their first Western League title since the eighties. Falmouth will be hoping that the influential Leivers will be available for the game, given the loss of captain Ward. Luke Barner will be available for the Boxing Day game, as he has completed his three match ban for the red card he received in the Moneyfields FA Vase game.
Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead, James Swan, Bradley Leivers, James Ward, Tom Annear. Jacob Grange, Alex Wharton, Andreas Calleja-Stayne, Jared Sims, Cameron Hutchison. Rubin Wilson. Subs : Oscar Massey, Luke Brabyn, Tom Fisher, Max Everall, Andrew Westgarth.
Saltash United: Jordan Duffey, Tyler Love-Holmes, Ethan Wright, Lawrence Murray, Tom Huyton, Hayden Greening, Aaron Goulty, Joe Preece, Jake Curtis. Subs: Josh Angel-Craven, Mackenzie Toms, Ben Goulty, Kieran O’Melia.