FALMOUTH Town will bid to reach the fourth round of the FA Vase for the first time in 18 years when they visit Dorset side Christchurch on Saturday.

Not since a 4-1 defeat at Northern League Division One side Bedlington Terriers in 2001 have Town played in the Last 32 stage of the national non-league tournament, but victory in Saturday's game will rewrite the record books.

Town boss Andrew Westgarth said: "Mouthwatering game isn't it? I'm sure the boys will be up for it, for two reasons, obviously off the back of the defeat [to Wadebridge on Saturday] and I'm sure the boys will want to put that right, and obviously the fact that it's the Vase, and that we're the last Cornish team in an FA competition is always nice.

"It's just what the Vase is all about. Special weekend away, we're all staying over in Bournemouth so it's going to be pretty good."

Falmouth warmed up for Saturday's big cup tie with a disappointing 4-3 defeat at home to Wadebridge Town in the South West Peninsula League Premier West, but Westgarth is relaxed about taking on higher-division opponents Christchurch this weekend, having knocked out three higher-division sides in the Vase over the past two seasons.

"It is literally all on the day," he said. "Stranger things have happened, we beat [Plymouth] Parkway last year 2-1 in the Charity Bowl, they were a league above and we've beaten sides above us before. We beat Clevedon last year, and obviously what we've done this year, so we won't fear them.

"We'll go up obviously with respect but you never know what can happen."

Who are Christchurch?

Founded in 1885, Christchurch are currently second in the Wessex Football League Premier Division with 29 points from 14 games.

It has been an excellent start to the campaign for Oliver Cherrett's side, who finished 16th in the 20-team division – which contains clubs from Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, and the Isle of Wight – last season, and won the Wessex League Division One the year before.

Known as The Church or The Priory, Christchurch have also negotiated four rounds to reach this stage, opening their campaign with a 4-1 win at Wessex League Division One side Amesbury Town in the First Preliminary Round at the end of August.

A 4-2 victory at Dorset Premier League side Dorchester Sports followed, before a 3-1 win at home to Brimscombe & Thrupp of the Hellenic League Premier and a 2-1 win at home to Badshot Lea set up the tie with Westgarth's men.

Cup magic

The magic of the cup has been sprinkled throughout Town's Vase campaign this season. Westgarth's side fought back from a goal down at rivals Helston to go on and win 5-1 in the first round proper, before an almighty comeback from 2-0 down at home to Longlevens with five minutes to go in the following round saw them rescue a draw before going on to win 3-2 in extra time.

"Hopefully we haven't used up all of our lives within a month," Westgarth said. "I hope we don't go up there and it becomes a flat game and end in disappointment in a 2-0 defeat. I hope we can give a good account of ourselves."

Flying the flag

Defeats for St Austell and Saltash United in the second round proper, coupled with early exits from the FA Cup and FA Trophy for Truro City, mean Town are the only Cornish side remaining in a national competition this season.

Westgarth is proud to be flying the flag for the county, and believes his side has the backing of their peers to continue their journey.

"I'm really proud," he said. "I'm sure all of the managers would be in the same boat, if it was a St Austell or a Saltash, I'm sure we'd all back each other to do well.

"I've had lots of messages wishing us the best of luck and even from the guys on Saturday, Wadebridge. Fair play to them, they said straight away, 'Good luck for Saturday, I hope you do really well', so I'd like to think most of Cornwall are behind us, but I wouldn't be against anybody if they wanted us to lose, put it that way!"

Victory on Saturday would put Town exactly halfway on their journey to Wembley.

The tie in Dorset will be their fifth of the season after wins over Bristol Telephones, St Blazey, Helston Athletic and Longlevens, with Town also having to negotiate five more matches (fourth round, fifth round, quarter-finals and two-legged semi-final) after Saturday in order to reach the Wembley showpiece in May.

  • Follow live text coverage of this weekend's tie on the Packet website from 1.30pm on Saturday.