Preview: Launceston v Falmouth Town

Falmouth Town are hoping to finish their 2021 travels on a high this Saturday when they make the trip to Launceston for their final away game of the year.

Town head up the A30 to the Clarets’ Pennygillam ground on Saturday for their 12th and final away day of the year, with the South West Peninsula League leaders hoping to extend their winning run to 17 games.

Town have won all eight South West Peninsula League trips in 2021 with their sole defeat this year coming at Buckland Athletic in the FA Vase, and boss Andrew Westgarth, who is back in the dugout this weekend after missing last week’s win over Wadebridge Town, is hopeful of adding another one on Saturday.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I was obviously disappointed to miss last week’s game, but I’ve read the reports and Rower [Wadebridge boss Paul Rowe] kindly lent me the Veo camera and managed to watch it back.

“I was a bit nervous at the time when I was following the updates, and at 2-1 down you’re always fearing the worst, but I thought we did well in the second half and I think on the balance of play we deserved the win.

“Going into tomorrow’s game, it’s the last away league game of 2021 so it’d be great to finish on a high. Launceston themselves are on a half-decent run, I think they’re three unbeaten. They have a good record at home as well and had some big scalps: they beat Bodmin early in the season and I think they convincingly beat Penryn.

“They’ve got some good players, the boy [James] Hamson in midfield, he’s very good, and they’ve got [Ben] Waters up front who can hurt teams.”

Weather permitting, Launceston will take to the field tomorrow for the first time since a 1-1 draw at St Blazey on November 26, when Reece Hendrickson’s stoppage-time strike rescued a point for Dan Hart’s side.

That game extended the Clarets’ unbeaten run to three games, following previous victories over Sticker and Penryn Athletic. Those results have seen the Pennygillam outfit climb to tenth in the division, at the base of a cluster of teams with points hauls in the mid-20s.

Ben Waters is the Clarets’ top scorer this season, with a return of 13 goals from 18 matches putting him joint fifth in the league’s goal charts.

The two sides have already met at Bickland Park this season, with Town running out 5-0 winners on home soil back on August 21. A Luke Barner brace and strikes from Luke Brabyn, David Broglino and Alex Wharton secured victory for Westgarth’s men that day.

Westgarth has plenty of options for tomorrow’s trip to north Cornwall with the return of players who have spent the last few months away at university, and the Town chief has also discovered the benefit that Christmas parties being cancelled due to the Omicron variant of coronavirus has had on team selection.

“The really positive thing is we’ve avoided all the Christmas parties this year, because historically at this time of year we’ve struggled with work dos and boys being unavailable or feeling a little bit worse for wear,” he said. “But with the covid situation we’ve gone through December pretty unscathed on that side of it, so that’s been quite good from a manager’s point of view!”

Launceston have been without a game for the last three weeks after last week’s game at home to St Dennis fell foul of the weather. In contrast, Town have dodged the elements thus far and been one of few teams in the league to not suffer a postponement during the recent spell of wet weather.

“Touch wood, we haven’t really been affected by the weather,” Westgarth said. “Talking to the boys on Saturday, I think the pitch was very heavy at Bickland, but the second team are at home tomorrow and it gives them a chance to play on it with the weather nice, and then we’ve got a full week’s rest until the Boxing Day game.”

Last five games: Launceston

Nov 26: St Blazey 1-1 Launceston (SWPL)
Nov 20: Launceston 1-0 Sticker (SWPL)
Nov 13: Penryn Athletic 1-3 Launceston (SWPL)
Nov 6: Sticker 3-1 Launceston (Senior Cup)
Oct 30: Penzance 1-3 Launceston (SWPL)

Last five games: Falmouth Town

Dec 11: Falmouth Town 4-2 Wadebridge Town (SWPL)
Dec 4: Liskeard Athletic 1-3 Falmouth Town (SWPL)
Nov 27: Falmouth Town 4-2 Camelford (SWPL)
Nov 20: Buckland Athletic 3-1 Falmouth Town (FA Vase)
Nov 12: Falmouth Town 5-2 Wendron United (SWPL)