Match Report – Saturday, Nov 25th, 2023


Falmouth Town inflicted the first league defeat of the season on a strong Barnstaple Town side at Bickland Park on Saturday in front of another healthy crowd of 399. Falmouth were missing Olly Walker again having unluckily sustained an injury in the week playing 5-a-side in London.  Jack Webber was still unavailable through injury, Kayden Gordon-Dunn is injured also and Luke Barner was serving the first game of his suspension following the sending off in the last Vase game 2 weeks ago.  Town gave striker Rubin Wilson his debut following his recent move from Helston. Barnstaple opted to start star striker Oscar Massey on the bench with player manager Stuart Bowker and new signing Chris Shephard, ex-Exeter City and Tiverton, selected instead.

Bowker and Shephard it was that made an immediate impact on the game within about 20 seconds, when Bowker bundled James Ward out of the way and the ball broke to Shephard, who expertly carried the ball forward, sat a defender down and dragged the ball past Coxhead in the Falmouth goal to open the scoring. A great start for Barnstaple albeit a questionable decision to allow the Bowker challenge on Ward. A pattern that was to continue for the majority of the game as Barnstaple seemed to consistently leave a foot in during tackles and made lots of fouls, not all of them picked up by the referee according to the Town supporters.

Falmouth then started to dominate possession as they now so often do, although Barnstaple looked a real threat going forward, with Bowker putting in his usual hard-working performance and challenging the Town defence physically whenever possible. Billy Tucker, Tor Swann and Shepard also showing their quality when they had the ball.

On 10 minutes, Falmouth equalised. A free-kick was won down the left and Tom Annear swung a cross in which beat the Barnstaple defence and found Bradley Leivers running through. Bradley Leivers brought the ball down and expertly lashed it past Kingston in the Barnstaple goal.

Falmouth had a penalty claim midway through the half with Tom Annear seemingly being fouled, but instead the referee booked Annear for simulation.

Barnstaple’s fortunes were to change after 43 minutes with Bowker, who had gone down injured on a couple of occasions already, having to make way for Oscar Massey.  His physical presence was missed for the rest of the game and the Town defence looked much more comfortable.

The first half finished at 1-1. A fair score-line with Falmouth mainly on top and Barnstaple looking dangerous in attacking areas.

13 minutes into the 2nd half and Jacob Grange made it 2-1 after steering the ball past the keeper from inside the area, finding the net just inside the far post.  Falmouth now seemed in control and a 3rd goal was looking likely.

Rubin Wilson, on his debut for Town was providing a real physical presence up-front and was making some great runs which the Town midfield will surely capitalise on after a bit more game-time together.  He also provides a great threat on crosses and this was to be proven on 31 minutes, when some great work down the left from Alex Wharton, who ran tirelessly at his full-back all game, ended with a short pass back to Bradley Leivers who drilled a cross in to the 6 yard area finding Rubin Wilson, who had found space between the two centre-halves. He made no mistake and headed the ball powerfully past Kingston to make it 3-1.

Barnstaple then started to get a bit more time on the ball but could not really trouble the Falmouth defence and the game finished at 3-1.  This was a very important win for Falmouth as most of the sides around them picked up points and Barnstaple themselves could have caught Town with their games in hand.  Falmouth remain in 6th place.

The two sides meet again next Saturday in the FA Vase, this time at Barnstaple, but Falmouth manager Andy Westgarth may have some selection headaches with Webber and Walker looking doubtful, Barner still suspended and Wilson cup-tied.

Falmouth Town: Morgan Coxhead, James Swann, Bradley Leivers, James Ward, Tom Annear, Jacob Grange, Jared Sims, Andreas Caleja-Stayne, Cam Hutchison, Alex Wharton, Ruben Wilson. Subs: Max Everall, Luke Brabyn, Jayden Gilbert.

Barnstaple Town: Liam Kingston, Joe Belsten, Myles Perkins, George Russell, Brodie Montague, Joseph Grigg. Matthew Andrew, Chris Shephard, Stuart Bowker, Tor Swann, Billy Tucker ©.  Subs: Harvey Dennis, Jack Arthur, Oscar Massey, Nathan Colley, Charlie Prentice.