Preview: Laverstock & Ford v Falmouth Town

Falmouth Town will look to banish the disappointment of their midweek Cornwall Senior Cup exit when they visit Laverstock & Ford in the FA Vase second round proper on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

An important week of three successive cup fixtures got off to a bad start on Wednesday night when Senior Cup holders Town were dumped out of this year’s competition by Wendron United – the side they defeated 1-0 in last year’s final.

Their cup week will conclude at home to Barnstaple Town in the first round of the Les Phillips Cup on Wednesday night, but Saturday sees them travel to Wiltshire to take on Wessex Football League Premier Division outfit Laverstock & Ford.

Victory this weekend will see Town reach the third round proper for the third time in four seasons, with Andrew Westgarth’s side losing at Laverstock & Ford’s Wessex League rivals Christchurch at that stage on both occasions.

Town have seen off three Cornish sides to get to the second round proper, having defeated St Austell (3-1), Launceston (5-0) and Helston Athletic (2-1) throughout their run. Laverstock & Ford, meanwhile, disposed of Andover Town (4-2) and Bradford Town (3-0) to book their place in the second round proper for the very first time.

Laverstock & Ford are led by Liam McConnell, who guided the side to promotion from the Wessex Football League Division One last term via the playoffs. The Bulldogs finished fifth in the Step 6 division with 78 points from 36 games, and saw off both Andover New Street and Newport (IOW) to clinch their place in the Premier Division after ten years away.

The Salisbury outfit have had a mixed start to the 2022/23 campaign, with a slow start seeing Lavvy pick up just four points in their first eight league games. McConnell’s side have turned the tide, however, having taken ten points from their four league matches since.

They are enjoying plenty of success in the cups this season, having won both of their Wessex League Cup ties thus far after successfully negotiating the first three qualifying rounds of the FA Cup, before losing by a single goal at National League South side Taunton Town.

Lavvy have scored 44 goals in all competitions this season, with Archie Lovegrove leading the way with 10 strikes in 18 games, while Chae Sykes and Russell Jones are close behind with seven goals each this term.

Westy’s words

“We’ve been so close [in the Vase in recent years] – the heartbreak of penalties to Christchurch [in 2020] and losing to them two years on the bounce, and the disappointment last year of losing to Buckland away.

“It’d be nice to get over that hurdle, and there’s no better way of bouncing back from the disappointment [of the Wendron loss] than having a massive cup game. 

“It’s an important week this week – we knew that – with Wendron on Wednesday night, the FA Vase on Saturday and then Barnstaple on Wednesday.

“We’ve got two mouthwatering games coming up but they’re the sort of games you want to be involved in and hopefully we can get over Wednesday night’s disappointment and get straight back out on it. You don’t want it to fester too long, you want to get out there and put it right.

“We’re going into [Saturday’s game] a little bit blind, we’ve got a bit of info on them but I don’t know if the unknown is a good thing or a bad thing. If it’s a bad result it’ll be a long drive home, but that’s why we play at this level of football.”

Last five games – Falmouth Town:
Nov 9: Falmouth Town 0-2 Wendron United (Senior Cup)
Oct 29: Falmouth Town 2-2 Keynsham Town (League)
Oct 22: Falmouth Town 2-1 Helston Athletic (FA Vase)
Oct 8: Falmouth Town 1-0 Shepton Mallet (League)
Oct 5: Falmouth Town 2-1 Bude Town (Cornwall Senior Cup)

Last five games – Laverstock & Ford:
Oct 29: Laverstock & Ford 2-2 Baffins Milton Rovers (League)
Oct 25: Portland United 2-4 Laverstock & Ford (League)
Oct 22: Bradford Town 0-3 Laverstock & Ford (FA Vase)
Oct 15: Laverstock & Ford 7-0 Blackfield & Langley (League)
Oct 11: Alresford Town 0-1 Laverstock & Ford (League)