Preview: Buckland Athletic v Falmouth Town

Falmouth Town will aim to sign off for Christmas with another three points when they visit Buckland Athletic in the Western League on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

This weekend’s game at Homers Heath will be both sides’ final match before Christmas, with Town hoping to go into the festive season with an early present of back-to-back league victories for the first time since the middle of August.

The two sides met at the Devonians’ ground last term in the second round proper of the FA Vase, with Buckland triumphing 3-1 on that day to become the first of only three teams to defeat Town in any competition last season.

Victory on Saturday could see Town jump as many as two places to eighth, while fifth-placed Buckland could close the gap on Mousehole in fourth to as little as one point if they can defeat Town.

Barnstaple, who are managed by Dan Hart, are playing their 11th successive Western League campaign after the Devonians earned promotion from the South West Peninsula League Premier in 2011/12.

Although they won the SWPL Premier title in 2010 and 2011, Bucks took promotion the following year after finishing second to Bodmin Town, with Falmouth Town completing the top three on that occasion.

They have been a consistent presence in the top half of the Western League Premier Division since their promotion, with last season’s 11th-place finish their joint lowest finish in their ten previous campaigns.

The Devon outfit are having a solid 2022/23 season thus far, having won ten and drawn two of their 19 league games to sit fifth in the table. They are also enjoying another fine run in the FA Vase, having seen off Town’s conquerors Laverstock & Ford two weeks ago to reach the fourth round proper for the third season running.

Hart’s men come into Saturday’s game in good form, having won their five matches in all competitions prior to their 1-1 draw at Helston Athletic last weekend.

Buckland have scored 46 goals in all competitions this season, with Ryan Bush leading the way with 11 strikes in 19 games, while Josh Webber is next with ten goals this term.

Westy’s words

“[Buckland’s ground’s] got to be one of the best facilities around, and I’d probably even say it’s the benchmark of what everyone should strive for on and off the pitch. The ground is brilliant and the way they look after you at that club is great, you always have a good time when you go up there.

“I don’t think we were a million miles off but we definitely fell short in [the FA Vase] game. I think it set us up to where we want to be. I think we’ve learnt a lot this year and it’s been a tough season in multiple ways but I think we’re growing as a group and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves tomorrow.

“We know the difference between playing home and away and we’ve still got to get that monkey off our back, that elusive first away win, and I’m sure Buckland will be aware of that. You’d like to think a side that’s tenth in the league won’t go the whole season without winning an away game, so I’d like to think it’s only a matter of time until we get that monkey off our back, and hopefully we can do that on Saturday.”

Last five games – Falmouth Town:
Dec 10: Falmouth Town 5-4 Barnstaple Town (League)
Dec 3: Torpoint Athletic 1-1 Falmouth Town (League)
Nov 19: Falmouth Town 2-1 Ashton & Backwell United (League)
Nov 12: Laverstock & Ford 2-1 Falmouth Town (FA Vase)
Nov 9: Falmouth Town 0-2 Wendron United (Senior Cup)

Last five games – Buckland Athletic:
Dec 10: Helston Athletic 1-1 Buckland Athletic (League)
Dec 6: Buckland Athletic 4-1 Barnstaple Town (St Luke’s Cup)

Dec 3: Buckland Athletic 3-0 Laverstock & Ford (FA Vase)
Nov 19: Buckland Athletic 6-1 Street (League)
Nov 12: Buckland Athletic 5-1 Cullompton Rangers (FA Vase)