Well it was Helston Athletic who came out on top of this game on Thursday at Kellaway Park played in front of a record-breaking attendance of 1179. In what was arguably the biggest league game in recent memory between two Cornish teams, especially given that it was billed as a decider for a title at Step 5 level, it was Ricky Shepherd’s 15th minute goal that divided the teams and put Helston in pole position to secure the Toolstation Western League title.

Falmouth opted to bring Jared Simms and Jack Webber back into their starting line-up replacing Cam Hutchison and Andy Elcock and Helston made numerous changes from their game against Barnstaple, notably Callum O’Brien replacing captain Harrison Jewell and the influential Jordan Copp starting in midfield.

Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes to allow the crowd to get into the ground as the Helston staff struggled with the large numbers attending. When the game did eventually start it was fairly even initially with Helston content to allow the Falmouth defence time on the ball but defending deep to counteract the threat over the top from Oscar Massey. Particularly, James Ward had lots of possession but there were a lack of forward options. The only ball on was to the feet of Massey or Rubin Wilson but the experienced central defensive pair of O’Brien and Jordan Bentley would not allow the strikers to hold the ball up and possession was often lost. Similarly, anything played any higher was won in the air by Helston.

Helston then started to win some free kicks around the Falmouth box and also forced a few corners. It was from one such corner that Helston scored what proved to be the only goal of the game on 15 minutes. The corner was headed out by Falmouth to the edge of the box only to find Steve Colwill, he played it back into the goalmouth and Morgan Coxhead was unable to punch it clear, Aaron Bentley won the ensuing header and it fell to Ricky Shepherd in the 6-yard box who swivelled and struck the ball into the net.

Helston continued to have the better of the game territorially, winning further free kicks in attacking areas although Falmouth had more possession. It was from these dead-balls that Helston looked the most dangerous with the aerial threat of O’Brien and the Bentley Brothers.

Towards the end of the first half the game became more physical leading to a couple of bookings for Helston but, the score-line remained unchanged and Helston went in one goal to the good with Town Manager Andy Westgarth no doubt scratching his head on what was needed to change the direction of the game.

The second half started with no changes to either side but, Falmouth Town appeared to up the tempo of the game and started to look a little more dangerous. Helston on the other hand used all their experience and employed the “dark arts” to make sure every break in play was maximised. Similar to the defeat suffered by Town to Helston in the league cup, Helston proved a tough side to break down once they had the lead.

Andy Westgarth started to ring the changes after 14 minutes introducing Cam Hutchison for Jared Simms and Andy Elcock for Jack Webber and particularly Elcock started to make an impression with his sharp passing and great movement off the ball. Another important change came on 18 minutes with Luke Brabyn coming on for Rubin Wilson, and this posed a different problem for the Helston defence with Brabyn’s pace and ability to hold the ball up under the intense pressure from the strong centre backs. Within 25 minutes, Westgarth had put on all 5 subs with the fast-improving Kian Thomas replacing Tom Annear and Jacob Grange on for James Swan.

Falmouth enjoyed their best period of the game as they pushed for an equaliser in the last quarter and twice the ball was centred from wide on the right and flashed across the goal but Falmouth were unable to get on the end of it. After around 14 minutes of added on time, caused by Helston’s reluctance to resume play at the restarts, and some injury breaks, the referee, who had a difficult game due to the importance of the match and the subsequent commitment from the players sometimes over-stepping the mark, blew the final whistle for a momentous Helston win.

Helston are now firmly in the driving seat for the league title having drawn level on points with Falmouth and having a game in hand and superior goal difference. They would now have to drop 4 points at least for Falmouth to have any chance of overtaking them. Falmouth have two league games remaining against Shepton Mallett and Oldland Abbottonians and Helston are still to play Torpoint, Buckland and Clevedon. Are there any more twists and turns to come in this most exciting of finales to the Western League season? Falmouth will be hoping the answer to that is a resounding yes!


Shepherd 15’.

Att: 1179.

Line Ups:

Helston Athletic: Kyle Moore, Dave Barker, Jordan Bentley, Callum O’Brien, Callum Martindale, Jordan Copp, Steve Colwill, Aaron Bentley©, Tom Paine, Ricky Shepherd, Curtis Damerell.

Subs: Harrison Jewell, Mariko Baga, Kai Cornish, Tyler Elliott, Sam Carter.

Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead, James Swan, James Ward©, Tom Annear, Bradley Leivers, Luke Barner, Jack Webber, Andreas Calleja-Stayne, Jared Sims, Oscar Massey, Rubin Wilson.

Subs: Jacob Grange, Luke Brabyn, Cam Hutchison, Kian Thomas, Andy Elcock.