Falmouth Town manager Andrew Westgarth was full of praise for his players, despite his side slipping to a third straight South West Peninsula League defeat at the hands of Exmouth Town on Saturday.

Goals from Jordan Harris and Dave Rowe were enough to send the Devonians to the top of the table and condemn Falmouth to their third loss in as many games, despite David Broglino reducing the arrears from the spot with 20 minutes to go.

“It’s not too many times this season that I’ve come off after the game quite proud of the performance after a loss,” Westgarth said. “The boys gave everything today and everything seems to be going against us at the minute with team selection and availabilities. It started again with [Tim] Nixon before the game but I’m so proud of the boys, from one to 14, every man put an absolute shift in.”

The aforementioned team selection problems reached uncharted territory on Saturday when Tim Nixon pulled up injured in the warm-up, which meant Westgarth, originally named among the substitutes, stepped into the starting line-up to fill the void at the last minute.

It is a continuation of what has been a difficult season personnel-wise for Town, which has most notably affected the striking department, with last season’s top-scorer Jordan Annear joining Plymouth Parkway, Jack Bowyer joining the police, while Matt Buchan and Rob Wearne have missed large chunks of the season through injury.

The latter duo were both injured in last week’s defeat at Elburton Villa in what was both players’ second match since returning from long-term injuries. Buchan was fit enough to make the bench against Exmouth but it was worse news for Wearne, who is set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Town were not helped by the unavailability of regular starters Joe Cooper, Ryan Martt and Luke Brabyn for Saturday’s game. The club have also had to deal with the departures of Tom Annear, Harry Clarke, Marcello Jones and Olly Walker since the start of the season, while Jack Webber and Josh Richards have both been away for the majority of the campaign.

“I’ve never known a period like it,” Westgarth said. “Obviously when I used to play you just get on it with it but as a manager you’re so engulfed in it. It’s borderline laughable how much this is working against us, but it is what it is, there’s no point crying about it because the starting 11 was still a good enough side to win the game.

“I just want to give full credit to the guys for sticking around it because we know what it’s like when you start going on a bad run because it’s human nature, people love failure people love seeing you fail but I’ve got to give full credit to the lads, they’ve stuck with it and if they play like that most weeks we’ll be fine.”

Westgarth paid special tribute to striker Jack Bowyer, who, despite having not played for the club in weeks due to ongoing police training, answered a desperate plea from the club to play 90 minutes for the team on Saturday, with all other first-team strikers unavailable.

He said: “Jack Bowyer answered an SOS and full credit to him because he’s in an important period in his life, he’s training to be in the police and he can’t afford any slip-ups, but he recognised the situation we were in and full respect to him for doing that today.

“It showed the difference by having an outlet and having a focal point up there, we looked a different team and I thought we were good value for 90 minutes.”