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Body blow for Town as St Austell run riot
ST AUSTELL 6
Body (2), Dingle (2), Reski, Campbell
FALMOUTH TOWN 1
Falmouth Town managers Les Gilbert and Robbie Stephens were all smiles when they arrived at a sunny Poltair Park on Saturday afternoon.
And why not? Bodmin Town were a safe distance away entertaining Wessex League side, Downton, at Priory Park. And several first team players were making their returns after suspension and ineligibility forced Town to field a second-string side last week.
There was much to be optimistic about.
But come five o'clock, as dejected Falmouth players trudged from the pitch having shipped six goals against a Lillywhites side not known for its prolific scoring record, any hint of optimism had long evaporated into the cold December air.
"We expected to put a better showing than that today," said a sombre Robbie Stephens after the game,"but in the end we were well beaten.
"It was glaring mistakes, glaring holes that we need to fill. When we took this job on we knew that that was what we had to do, but we've got players coming up from junior football and from the seconds. We've said it before, but it's going to take time."
The warning signs were there moments after kickoff, when a sharp exchange of passes between Will Tinsley and Josh Bragg released an unmarked Mike Body through the middle. Body lofted the ball over the onrushing Jason Chapman, only to see it cannon back off the crossbar.
With St Austell's next attack Bragg's glancing header grazed the outside of the post.
Even then, Town might have put a shaky start down to nerves or a lack of familiarity amongst the players and looked to regroup, but Dan Nancarrow's side never allowed them to settle, and 18 minutes in Jordan Dingle struck the first blow for the home side with a well placed shot curled past Chapman from 20 yards out.
Had this been a boxing match Town may well have covered up and waited for the first round bell, but Gilbert and Stephens' side had no such luxury.
St Austell continued to press, and Town continued to look shaky - especially down the left, where Body subjected Bobby Bryant and Jamie Webb to a torrid first 45 minutes, peeling off his marker looking for balls over the top and down the channels.
It was perhaps inevitable then that the St Austell front man would bag the Lillywhites' second after Dingle's cross from the left was bundled scrappily over the line.
And Body bagged his second and the home side's third of the afternoon when he burst clear of the Falmouth back line to finish clinically from 20 yards out.
At 3-0 Falmouth could have gone to pieces, but what this Town side currently lack in ability they make up for in sheer determination. Spurred on by Gilbert and Stephens, the visitors battled on through clenched jaws and gritted teeth.
They were rewarded for their bloody-mindedness just before the break.
A rare foray into the St Austell half forced Jason Peters into his first save, before Karl Turner threw Falmouth a lifeline with a fine solo effort smashed high into the back of the net from eight yards out.
Les Gilbert's half-time rallying cry could be heard in the stands, and it was a buoyant, rejuvenated Falmouth that poured forward in the opening ten minutes of the second half, forcing St Austell to defend deep as they searched for a second.
But a lack of fluency in the final third prevented the visitors from capitalising on their only sustained spell of pressure, and they were eventually caught with a St Austell sucker punch on 52 minutes when Dingle broke clear to fire in the home side's fourth and kill the game off.
Though the Town back line were perhaps culpable for the fourth, the fifth they could nothing about.
Chris Reski, marked what up until that point had been a solid but unremarkable performance with a goal of such quality that Falmouth and St Austell fans alike took to their feet to applaud.
Receiving the ball 30 yards out, Reski took a touch before arrowing a shot into the top corner with such venom that Chapman scarcely had time to turn his head before it hit the back of the net.
Even then, trailing by four and staring defeat in the face, Falmouth looked to get forward.
Nathan McIntosh fired over from an acute angle before Dan Richardson squandered Town's best opportunity for a second when he blasted over a direct free kick on the edge of the six yard box with St Austell crowding the goal line.
So another defeat for Gilbert and Stephens' nascent Falmouth side, but once again the scoreline tells only part of the story.
Town acquitted themselves admirably at Poltair Park, and thought they were well beaten, they will take solace in the fact that they went down swinging.
The real trick now is turning perseverance into points.