FALMOUTH Town continued their impressive run in the FA Vase with this away win to their fellow Western League title-chasers Barnstaple Town on a chilly day in front of around 250 onlookers, writes Scott McCormack. 

The game started with Barnstaple having the lion’s share of the ball with anything loose being won by the home side's experienced midfield. Matty Bye was noticeably influential. However, Barnstaple were playing a high line which some might say might have played into Falmouth’s hands with their pacey trio of Walker, Wharton, and Brabyn.  

On nine minutes, Falmouth won a free kick on the right touch-line, halfway in to the Barnstaple half. An excellent delivery from Tom Annear found James Ward on the far post and he headed the ball home to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

Barnstaple continued to dominate with Falmouth looking dangerous on the break. Oscar Massey for Barnstaple looked threatening with the ball at his feet, accelerating away from the Falmouth defence on one occasion to set up a chance.

Falmouth were unable to get their wide players Wharton and Walker into the game, given their lack of dominance in the midfield.

Falmouth were defending well though and Bradley Leivers was impeccable, hardly giving the ball away, reading the game well leading to several interceptions and winning his battles with the Barnstaple wide mid-fielder when he was able to engage with him. 

The half continued with Barnstaple winning a few corners and heading narrowly wide on one occasion with Falmouth threatening when going forward.

Ollie Walker broke through on 40 minutes but was caught between taking the last man on or playing in Brabyn, and the ball ran to safety. In the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time, Ollie Walker put Alex Wharton through with only the keeper to beat. However, Wharton could not make it pay as the ball cleared the crossbar from a powerful shot.

The half ended at 1-0 and despite Barnstaple’s general dominance, Falmouth may have been rueing missing the two late chances they created.

Falmouth manager Andy Westgarth made a presumably tactical substitution at half-time replacing Cam Hutchison with Tom Fisher, and Fisher seemed to have been detailed to shadow Matty Bye in the Barnstaple midfield to nullify his influence.  If this was the plan, it seemed to work as Falmouth started to find Ollie Walker, who had been switched to his preferred left side.

Barnstaple continued to get their defence up the pitch which stopped Town from playing and they seemed to be first to any loose balls, but were not really creating anything. However, it was proving a risky strategy as about 10 minutes in, Walker broke clear down the left, raced past his full-back and cut in to hit a powerful shot that hit the bar. Around 10 minutes later, a defensive error let Walker in down the left again.  This time he made no mistake beating the keeper on his far post. 2-0 to Falmouth.

Within five minutes, Barnstaple decided to make a change bringing Stuart Bowker and Tommy Rodgers off the bench to provide more of a physical threat. Oscar Massey and captain Billy Tucker coming off. However, it was Falmouth who had the next chance on 31 minutes as Brabyn broke clear with only the keeper to beat, but on a bobbly pitch, his shot cleared the bar.

Town were looking comfortable, until in the 47th Minute, a free-kick was conceded a few yards outside of the Falmouth area. The strike hit the post, ricocheted across the goal and was tapped in by Brodie Montague to set up a nervous last few minutes for Falmouth, especially given the number of chances they had created to put the game out of the home team’s reach.

Barnstaple nearly got an equaliser three minutes later as the ball broke to Bowker in the six-yard box, but he could only put the chance over the bar.  After what must have been over 10 minutes of injury time, the ref finally blew up and Falmouth were through.  

Falmouth Town now enter the fourth round of the FA Vase for the first time since their historic trip to Northumberland to play Bedlington Terriers in 2000/2001 and will face Hartpury University next.