Preview: Falmouth Town v Clevedon Town

Falmouth Town will hope to make it third time lucky in their bid for a first Western League Premier Division victory when Clevedon Town make the trip down to Bickland Park on Saturday.

A testing start to life back in the Western League has seen Town collect one point from their opening two games, with a last-gasp 2-2 draw at home to Wellington two weeks being followed by a 3-1 loss at Cornish rivals Millbrook three days later.

But optimism is high around the club after last weekend’s superb 2-1 victory over Saltash United in their FA Cup extra preliminary round tie at Bickland Park, with attention now returning to the quest for that first Western League win.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it, especially after getting that much-needed win on Saturday,” manager Andrew Westgarth said. “The manner in which we won it was the most pleasing thing because we obviously knew that we were up against it in terms of the players we didn’t have available.

“We had to show that other side of our game, be resilient, stay in the game, and there’s nothing better than scoring late on to win a game of football. Confidence-wise, with the players we’ve got back in on Saturday it has given us a bit of a boost. It’s nice to have a run of home games as well.”

While Clevedon suffered a 3-2 defeat at home to Ashton & Backwell United in the league on Wednesday night, Town have enjoyed a much-needed seven-day break from action.

Town were due to visit Mousehole on Tuesday night but the match was postponed due to the Seagulls’ FA Cup replay with Barnstaple Town, and Westgarth welcomed the break for his squad.

“We needed that break really and that’s not because of the volume of games, I think we just needed that break because of personnel, because of picking up a few knocks,” Westgarth said.

“We had Jack Bray-Evans come off injured on Saturday and Wardy obviously wasn’t playing so it’s given him a chance to have a rest, and the lads that have been away have been fortunate to pick up games with the reserves, so it’s not been a bad week for us.”

It will be the first time Town have played Clevedon since their last season in the Western League in 1982/83, with the Seasiders spending another decade in the division before enjoying promotion to the second tier of the Southern League in 1993.

A four-year spell in the Southern League Premier Division followed in the mid-2000s before returning to the second tier, with the Somerset outfit dropping back down to the Western League Premier in 2015, where they have remained ever since.

The teams have met twice in the FA Vase since their last league meeting, with Town triumphing 1-0 in the fourth round on their way to the quarter finals in 1986/87, while goals from James Ward and David Blizzard secured a comeback 2-1 win over the Somerset club at Bickland Park in the second qualifying round in 2018/19.

“I’ve got fond memories of playing that [tie in 2018],” Westgarth said, “and as I said the other day I think [the season] will have a Vase feel to it for a while. It’s a long, old trip for them on a sunny weekend.

“It’s amazing how your perception changes after a win, although I’m never really a defeatist. I’m really looking forward to the game itself and another big crowd and hopefully a chance to get our first three points of the season.”

He added: “I think if it doesn’t happen on Saturday we don’t need to panic but it just settles everyone down. I think that’s why the Saltash game was so important for us. It showed the squad that we can do it and we can, on our day, produce a good win.”