THE unwritten nature of sport means it has the habit of throwing up an incredible, unforgettable, ‘I was there’ moment from time to time.

That was very much the case at Bickland Park on Saturday, as Falmouth Town pulled off the comeback to end all comebacks to beat Longlevens and secure their place in the third round proper of the FA Vase for the first time in eight years.

Picture the scene: You are two goals down with the regulation 90 minutes all but up, hope has almost completely faded and even the most optimistic of supporters has resigned themselves to defeat.

The only way back from this is via the contrived plot of a screenplay writer, right?

Think again.

Town, staring elimination in the face, managed to score their first goal just as the 90th minute elapsed, before scoring a scarcely believable equaliser two minutes into injury time to send the hundreds of home fans into raptures, before going on to clinch the tie in extra time.

This remarkable twist of fate certainly wasn’t in it, but here is how the script had been written so far.

Town had secured their place in the second round proper of the FA Vase for the second year in succession, thanks to wins at Bristol Telephones, St Blazey, and latterly, local rivals Helston Athletic, by way of a come-from-behind 5-1 win on their own patch, no less.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the stunning way in which Andrew Westgarth’s side swatted their in-form rivals, who had won their previous 13 games in all competitions, aside at Kellaway Park three weeks earlier was going to be the highlight of their latest sojourn in the national non-league competition.

It certainly looked that way when Longlevens captain Shaun O’Connor fired the Gloucestershire side in front with a long-range free kick shortly before half time, before the impressive Harry Emmett rifled in a first-time shot from 15 yards to double the advantage early in the second half.

You certainly wouldn’t rule Town out at that stage. After all, this is a side that has fashioned some of their fondest recent memories out of losing positions.

They fell a goal behind on their way to earning their maiden Walter C Parson League Cup crown in 2018, going 1-0 down against Tavistock before Jordan Annear’s hat-trick sealed a 4-2 extra-time win over the Lambs.

They also recovered from a losing position in their first Cornwall Senior Cup triumph for 22 years in April of this year, with goals from Joe Cooper and James Ward cancelling out Ryan Richards’ early strike for Saltash United.

They even did it as recently as that game against Helston three weeks ago. Billy Tucker had put the Blues a goal up, only for Matt Buchan and David Broglino to turn the tables by the break, before the same pair, and Luke Brabyn, notched again to seal an incredible 5-1 win against Steve Massey’s red-hot side.

But this one looked like being a step too far, with time ticking away without so much as a meaningful shot on target for the Bickland boys. A couple of half chances came and went, but Levens ‘keeper Ash Wintle’s goal enjoyed a fairly quiet afternoon. His side’s victory was looking about as routine and unremarkable as they came.

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But that was not to be the case. Just as the clock entered the 90th minute, versatile home winger Luke Barner was sent sprawling under a challenge on the far side of the penalty area.

Referee Neil Lane blew his whistle, but the home fans weren’t celebrating yet, having been burned moments earlier when Lane blew after Ryan Chinn hit the deck in the box, only to show the midfielder a yellow card for simulation.

But, after consulting his assistant, this time he pointed to the spot to offer Town a glimmer of hope. Brabyn stepped up and fired the spot kick into the top corner to the delight of the F-Troop behind the goal, with team-mate Jack Bowyer grabbing the ball as the hosts sprinted back to halfway, eager to restart play as quick as they could.

By now we were into the first minute of injury time, and with no lengthy stoppages in the second half, this cup tie seemingly had around three minutes left of its lifespan, tops.

Suddenly, Town were back on the attack, with substitute Luke Johnson coming in from the right to tee up fellow sub Bowyer, whose first-time effort from ten yards was blocked by a Levens leg, with the ball rebounding for Martyn Duff arrow an audacious overhead kick agonisingly wide of the far post.

That was it. That would have been the movie script ending, but it just wasn’t to be. So near and yet so far.

But play went on, with Chinn picking up a loose ball just inside the Longlevens half before launching it back into the box. If an equaliser was to arrive, it simply had to come now.

And, incredibly, it did.

Under pressure from the lurking Brabyn, ‘keeper Wintle attempted to punch the cross to safety, but only found substitute Jack Webber, who ambled up to the loose ball and sent it back over everybody’s heads and into the unguarded net from 25 yards. Cue absolute bedlam in Bickland Park.

Webber and his team-mates, including goalkeeper Ryan Barnes who had run the length of the pitch, plus assistant manager James Miller and Westgarth, raced to the stands and formed a pile of yellow shirts in front of the delirious home support.

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The game had barely restarted before Lane signalled the end of 90 minutes and confirmed an additional 30 of extra time – something which would have seemed utterly preposterous barely three minutes earlier.

Despite being second best for much of the first 89 minutes, Town, buoyed by the events of those 180 seconds, controlled proceedings in extra time, with Longlevens understandably shell shocked by what had just hit them.

Johnson and Bowyer squandered good chances to go in front in the first period of 15 additional minutes, but the lead was finally theirs in the 110th minute, when Bowyer latched onto a through ball and sped into the box before rounding Wintle, who clipped the striker’s ankles and sent him tumbling. No doubt about this one, Lane instantly pointed to the spot.

Brabyn was tasked with converting his second penalty kick of the afternoon, or evening by now, and the forward stepped up to send Wintle the wrong way and crank the decibel levels inside Bickland Park up another few notches.

The remaining few minutes were largely an extended celebration, although Barnes did have to make one important intervention to deny the visitors a way back in the final minute, before Lane put his whistle to his lips for the final time to fully start the party.

The majority of the 486-strong support stayed to celebrate with their heroes, who had come across to acknowledge their own part in spurring them on to their incredible achievement.

Footballers and fans in perfect harmony – this is how it should be, and much needed after recent headlines of racism, hostility between players and supporters (see Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka), and, at a local level, pyrotechnics.

The remarkable story was especially apt given that Town had led in the dying minutes of their previous second round proper tie at Hamworthy United some 12 months ago, before conceding a late equaliser and ultimately going on to lose in extra time.

Falmouth will now get what was cruelly taken from them a year ago – a place in the third round proper and the last 64 of the national competition.

There may still be another couple of hurdles to overcome before a Wembley final becomes a realistic thought, but after the memorable, movie-like plotline witnessed at the weekend, what’s to say the sequel isn’t to take place at the home of English football?

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