Preview: Ilfracombe Town v Falmouth Town

Falmouth Town will be hoping to bounce back from Wednesday night’s loss to Mousehole when they visit Ilfracombe Town in their latest Western League Premier Division outing on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Andrew Westgarth’s side head to Marlborough Park for a league fixture for the very first time this weekend and three points would be the perfect tonic after a chastening defeat on Wednesday night.

Goals in either half from Max Hill and Andrew Elcock secured a 2-0 win for Jake Ash’s Mousehole side, with Town losing Luke Brabyn and Scott Kellow to red cards while Tom Annear and Tim Nixon both sent to the sin bin during a frustrating evening.

Ilfracombe are led by manager Clem Bennellick, who was at the helm when the Bluebirds achieved promotion to the Western League Premier Division in 2021, ending a seven-year exodus from the division. The Devon outfit were one of two clubs – alongside Millbrook – to earn promotion via points-per-game over the curtailed 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns.

The Devonians enjoyed a solid first season back in the Western League last term, with Bennellick’s side winning 16 matches and scoring 62 goals on their way to an eighth-place finish – their highest league position since 2011.

Their campaign this time around hasn’t quite matched the highs of last year, with the north Devon side having amassed nine points from eight games. That tally puts them level with Town but behind Westgarth’s side on goal difference, albeit having played two games fewer than Falmouth.

Ilfracombe have a near-identical league record to Town this season, having won two and drawn three of their eight matches thus far. Their two wins both came at home to Keynsham Town and Millbrook respectively, while one of their draws was an impressive 1-1 draw at leaders Bridgwater United last Saturday. Bennellick’s side are on a three-game winless run, and lost 3-2 at Street last time out on Wednesday night.

The Bluebirds have scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, with Liam Short and Harry Stevens leading the way with seven strikes apiece.

Westy’s words

“That’s half the beauty of football isn’t it; you don’t get to hang around too long to try and right wrongs of the game before. Looking at it from a positive side of [the Mousehole loss] we applied ourselves well so hopefully we can build on that, but we need to start getting wins away from home. Performance-wise, I thought for spells against Mousehole we did well, but we just need to get that cutting edge away from home.

“We played [Ilfracombe] a couple of years ago for a pre-season friendly so we have been up there before in my time. It’s a tight pitch on a bit of a slope. They’re in a similar situation to us, they’re probably looking at this game as one to do well in and it’s probably a game neither of us want to lose. Looking at the league table, you don’t want to be losing to sides around or below you.

“The squad is so competitive now with Olly Walker managing to get back on the pitch [on Wednesday] which is great. He’s back now so [we’ve got] competition for places and the depth of our squad now is pretty much, other than Wardy [skipper James Ward], back to full strength.”

Last five games – Falmouth Town:

Sep 28: Falmouth Town 0-2 Mousehole (League)
Sep 24: Falmouth Town 5-0 Launceston (FA Vase)
Sep 17: Keynsham Town 1-1 Falmouth Town (League)
Sep 7: Falmouth Town 0-0 Helston Athletic (League)
Sep 3: Mousehole 3-2 Falmouth Town (League)

Last five games – Ilfracombe Town:

Sep 28: Street 3-2 Ilfracombe Town (League)
Sep 24: Bridgwater United 1-1 Ilfracombe Town (League)
Sep 17: Ilfracombe Town 1-3 Saltash United (League)
Sep 3: Ilfracombe Town 5-3 Millbrook (League)
Aug 29: Ilfracombe Town 2-2 Clevedon Town (League)