Falmouth Town under-18s will welcome Torquay United to Bickland Park in the FA Youth Cup next week in what is set to be a memorable match for the club.
Town’s brand-new youth side set up the mouthwatering tie with the National League outfit after defeating Elburton Villa 3-2 on penalties on Thursday night following a 3-3 draw after 90 minutes.
Facing only their second FA Youth Cup tie ever, Town fell behind early on in the first qualifying round tie at Haye Road before Oliver Pickup restored parity from the spot, only for J-Jay Honeywill to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage at the break.
Pickup hauled Town level with his second spot-kick before Connor McCarthy put Dave Turner’s team in front for the first time, but a late Villa equaliser sent the tie to penalties.
Falmouth goalkeeper Toby Fletcher was the hero in the shootout, with his three penalty saves – taking his total for the night to four after saving one in normal time – helping Town prevail 3-2 on spot-kicks, with Pickup, Ethan Jorey and Tashi Briar scoring the goals to send Town through.
“[It was] a difficult opponent and typical of going into a bigger city environment, it’s an intimidating place to go for a provincial team but the boys stood up to it well,” manager Dave Turner said. “They were tested by Elburton early on and had to adapt to some of the things they were very effective at: they were quite direct and had some quality that hurt and the boys had to really dig in and adapt and they showed a lot of quality to do that.”
He added: “The resilience of the boys isn’t in question, that was evident in the previous round at Ilfracombe when they went 2-0 down in six minutes and then came back and showed the character to get a grip of the game and control it from there.
“At half-time [at Elburton] we made some slight adjustments and in the second half I thought we dominated. We probably should have won the game in normal time, we had three clear-cut chances to have made sure it didn’t go to penalties.
“But having said that, just before half-time Toby Fletcher’s made a penalty save at 2-1 down and if that goes in then it’s a tall order to come back from that. The game really hinged on that save from Toby and he was absolutely fantastic. He should be exceptionally proud of himself.”
Town can now look forward to staging their first-ever FA Youth Cup tie at Bickland Park next week, with Torquay United, managed by former Plymouth Argyle, Truro City and Torquay man Ryan Dickson, the opposition for the second qualifying round encounter.
The date and kick-off will be confirmed later this week and Turner is hoping for a big turnout from the F-Troop to cheer on the next generation of Falmouth Town stars.
“Before we started we said if we had one fixture at Bickland then it’s kind of mission accomplished, we knew that the F-Troop would mobilise themselves and really get behind the boys,” Turner said. “But the way it’s played out, in that we’ve had a couple of games away and experienced the coach journeys and going into slightly hostile environments, the boys digging deep and showing resilience to come back into those games, I think it feels like we’ve earned the night at Bickland a bit more.
“And maybe the F-Troop, not having been able to see the last two games, has developed a bit more interest in us as well, so hopefully we’ll get a nice, big crowd for that one.”
Falmouth: T Fletcher, I Baldwin, J Turner, T Moore, O Henwood, G Evans, C McCarthy, J Commons, O Pickup, E Jorey, B Martin.
Subs: H Salmon, T Briar, H Rogers, A Hicks, B Shailes, J Plummer, J Warr.