Preview: Falmouth Town v St Austell

Falmouth Town have the chance to put a difficult few days behind them when they welcome St Austell to Bickland Park in the FA Vase first qualifying round on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

An agonising late 2-1 loss at rivals Helston Athletic, in which Town were leading 1-0 with five minutes to play, in the FA Cup extra preliminary round on Saturday was followed by defeat by the same score at the same opponents in the Western League on Tuesday night.

But Andrew Westgarth’s side have the chance to make progress in another competition this weekend when Mark Smith’s team come to town, with a second qualifying round tie at home to the Lillywhites’ divisional colleagues Launceston next month the prize for the winners.

The winners – who will be decided by penalties if the tie is level after 90 minutes – will also collect £550, and Westgarth is hoping that victory will also give his side a much-needed boost ahead of a testing league trip to Ashton & Backwell United on Bank Holiday Monday.

“It’s a welcome distraction but defeats were always going to happen and it’s how you bounce back, Westgarth said. “Obviously the manner in which we lost those games was the hardest thing to take. I don’t think we did enough to win on Tuesday but we definitely didn’t deserve to lose it, but again we’ve just got to learn that’s the joys of this league and why we want to be in a higher league to test ourselves, challenge ourselves and play against better sides week in, week out. We love the FA Vase as a club, it’s a great competition and something we want to do well in after the disappointment of the FA Cup.”

He added: “It’s an important weekend for us because we don’t want to be going into the Ashton & Backwell game off another defeat and three in a row which is not ideal, we know the significance of the game on Saturday.”

St Austell will also be looking to Saturday as a welcome break from league action following a difficult last seven days for the Lillywhites. 

The season had started so well for Smith’s side, who defeated Dobwalls, Camelford and Callington Town without conceding a goal as they, along with rivals St Blazey, raced to the top of the SWPL Premier West standings with three wins from three games.

But nobody predicted what was to come next as the Lillywhites shipped seven goals at home to Wadebridge Town on an afternoon to forget last weekend, with hopes of bouncing back at Sticker in midweek dashed by a late equaliser for their hosts in their 2-2 draw at Burngullow Park.

“The management at St Austell has changed over the years with Knighter [Chris Knight], Chappy [Jason Chapman] and Laffs [Phil Lafferty] and now with Sparky [Smith],” Westgarth said. “It’s always a good game against St Austell, they’re a good side and got off to a good start, albeit with a hiccup against Wadebridge and Sticker, but we’re expecting a tough game. They’ve got some good players in their side and hopefully we can bounce back after the disappointment of Tuesday.”

Last five games (Falmouth)

Aug 23: Helston Athletic 2-1 Falmouth Town (League)
Aug 20: Helston Athletic 2-1 Falmouth Town (FA Cup)
Aug 17: Falmouth Town 3-1 Torpoint Athletic (League)
Aug 13: Falmouth Town 4-0 Clevedon Town (League)
Aug 6: Falmouth Town 2-1 Saltash United (FA Cup)

Last five games (St Austell)

Aug 23: Sticker 2-2 St Austell (League)
Aug 20: St Austell 0-7 Wadebridge Town (League)
Aug 13: St Austell 1-0 Callington Town (League)
Aug 9: Camelford 0-1 St Austell (League)
Aug 6: St Austell 2-0 Dobwalls (League)