Brabyn’s late spot-kicks secure treble for Town

Luke Brabyn scored two late penalties as Falmouth Town beat Torpoint Athletic 4-2 in the Champions Bowl to complete a memorable treble-winning campaign.

Jack Bray-Evans opened the scoring for Town in the match between the two South West Peninsula League champions at Bodmin Town’s Priory Park, with the freescoring Falmouth man doubling the SWPL Premier West winners’ lead ten minutes before half-time.

Ryan Richards halved the deficit for Dean Cardew’s east Cornwall outfit just before the break before the same man hauled the SWPL Premier East champions back level midway through the second stanza.

But just as penalties were looming, Brabyn slotted home the winning goal from the spot with two minutes left of the 90, before repeating the trick two minutes later to clinch his side’s third trophy of an incredible season.

Both sides ended the game with ten men, with Torpoint’s Callum O’Brien receiving a second yellow for the foul that led to the second penalty, before Town substitute Bowyer was given his marching orders for time wasting deep into stoppage time.

Due to the covid-related curtailment of the last two seasons this was the first-ever staging of the Champions Bowl, which raises money for the SWPL’s Benevolent Fund, the league’s charitable arm that, among other things, supports players who have lost income due to serious injuries.

The inaugural Bowl was guaranteed to produce a treble-winning side, with Town having won the SWPL Premier West and Cornwall Senior Cup already this season, while Torpoint had lifted the SWPL Premier East and Walter C Parson League Cup.

Before the game Bray-Evans and Torpoint striker Curtis Damerell were presented with the SWPL’s golden boot trophies, with west division winner Bray-Evans scoring 34 goals in SWPL competitions and east division recipient Damerell scoring a whopping 54 goals.

Town enjoyed the brighter start on a fine summer’s afternoon in Bodmin with Luke Barner’s early effort trickling wide of Jason Peters’ goal inside the first minute, although Ryan Barnes had to be at his best to deny Damerell at the other end after parrying Paul Heveran’s effort towards the prolific forward.

But it was the west division winners who drew first blood in the 21st minute, with Tim Nixon beating Peters to a loose ball in the box and rounding the Torpoint man before pulling it back for Bray-Evans, who smashed it into the net from ten yards.

Torpoint looked to respond with Paul Heveran flashing an angled shot wide of the far corner, but Town were looking hungry and soon found themselves two goals to the good shortly before the break. Tom Annear’s free-kick from near the touchline was met beautifully by the head of James Ward, who nodded it into the path of the unmarked Bray-Evans to score his second of the game.

The east champions were far from out of it though with Heveran missing the target from the edge of the box before the east Cornwall outfit did get on the board. Richards, who was runner-up to team-mate Damerell in the east division goal scoring standings, wriggled free in the Town box and coolly slotted the ball past Barnes to reduce his side’s arrears to one at the interval.

Much like in the first half, Town started the second period the stronger and looked to restore their two-goal advantage, but couldn’t find a way to test Peters with Bray-Evans sending an audacious volley over the crossbar in his side’s best effort of the first 15 minutes of the half.

That came back to bite the Bickland Park outfit as Torpoint got back on level terms just after the hour. The two prolific frontmen of Richards and Damerell combined once again with the latter teeing up the former, who rifled the ball past Barnes from just inside the box.

Having been pegged back, Town immediately looked to restore their advantage with Bray-Evans’ strike rolling wide of Peters’ goal before Brabyn skewed a shot wide from distance.

But back came Torpoint with Richards sending another effort over the bar before Callum Thompson missed an even bigger chance, receiving the ball in space inside the box and smashing it against the woodwork when it appeared easier to score.

But with the game still level and penalties looming, Town were presented with a golden chance to win the match in the 88th minute. Luke Barner was barged over in the box and referee James Long immediately pointed to the spot, with Brabyn placing the ball past the despairing arm of Peters to send the F-Troop into raptures.

With Torpoint desperately pushing for a late equaliser, substitute Bowyer was allowed the space to surge into the box before hitting the turf under O‘Brien’s challenge, earning the Torpoint man a second yellow card. Long pointed to the spot once again, and once again Brabyn sent the ball into the bottom right corner to all but confirm victory for Town.

The drama didn’t stop there, with Bowyer receiving his second yellow card for booting the ball out of the ground after the whistle had blown, but it did little to dampen the mood among the Town support with victory finally confirmed moments later.

Falmouth: R Barnes, K Davies, J Ward, T Annear, T Moxham, S Kellow, A Calleja-Stayne, L Brabyn, L Barner (J Turner 90+4), J Bray-Evans (A Wharton), T Nixon (J Bowyer). Subs (unused): J Ware, A Wharton, J Bowyer.

Torpoint: J Peters, P Heveran, C O’Brien, L Pacey (C Holder), S Hillson, J Heveran, C Thompson, M Lucas (G Hird), C Damerell, R Richards, D Hicks. Subs (unused): J Forrest, D Tate.

Attendance: 418