Falmouth Town bounced back from last week’s League Cup exit in perfect fashion on Saturday, scoring four goals to brush aside Bodmin Town at their Priory Park home, writes Matt Friday.
Tim Nixon’s strike inside two minutes set the tone for a dominant afternoon from a Falmouth perspective, with Luke Barner doubling the advantage midway through the half.
Levi Landricombe halved the deficit from the penalty spot shortly before the interval, only for Jack Bray-Evans to swiftly restore Town’s two-goal lead deep into first-half stoppage time, with James Ward heading home late on to cap off a fine afternoon’s work.
The win, plus two dropped points for title challengers Liskeard Athletic, who battled back to draw 2-2 at home to Camelford, means Town are now 15 points clear of the Blues at the top of the South West Peninsula League Premier West table, having played two more games than the east Cornwall outfit.
Town boss Andrew Westgarth made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Okehampton Argyle in that League Cup third-round tie a week earlier, with Tom Moxham and Ade Thompson returning to the starting line-up in place of Toby Clark and Kirk Davies, who were both among the substitutes at Priory Park.
Bodmin chief Darren Gilbert made four changes from last week’s 3-0 loss at Liskeard, with the quartet of Adam Robathan, Fin Harrison, Sam Hepworth and Nathaniel Hawkins coming in for Liam Hooks, Dan Jennings, Stephen Simmonds and George Tucker.
Westgarth spoke of the need to bounce back from last week’s cup exit ahead of the game, and Town wasted no time in doing so, taking the lead barely a minute after kick-off. Luke Brabyn received the ball and scampered down the right flank, with his low cross being swept home by Nixon for his 13th goal of the season.
Nixon had another attempt blocked soon after before Town came a post’s width away from doubling their lead in only the ninth minute. Ward rose to nod a free-kick towards Brabyn in the centre of the box, whose goalbound effort was tipped onto the post by home custodian and Bodmin debutant Adam Robathan.
A heavy touch inside the box cost Harry Jeffery a good chance as Bodmin began to get forward at the other end, before Robathan, whose arrival from Penryn Athletic was announced that morning, had to be alert to deny the lively Bray-Evans twice inside a minute as Town swiftly regained control.
They soon turned that control into a deserved second goal, although Bodmin would have felt it could have been avoided. The hosts were robbed of the ball in their own third and Scott Kellow poked the ball through to Barner, who managed to lift it over the advancing Robathan for his 14th of the season and first since a 3-1 win over Liskeard on December 4.
The remainder of the first half was a case of attack versus defence, with Town intent on killing the game off before the break. But it wasn’t to be, with a mixture of wayward shooting and superb shot-stopping keeping the home side in the game.
One of the moves of the match involving Barner, Kellow and Bray-Evans in and around the left side of the box saw Nixon bring another save out of Robathan. Barner then drove a shot inches wide of the far post before Brabyn became the latest to be thwarted by the in-form gloveman.
Kellow blazed a shot over the crossbar from distance soon after before David Broglino’s cross was expertly chested down by Bray-Evans, only for the strike to be denied by a well-timed block from Nathaniel Hawkins.
Another goal felt inevitable, but it came at the other end when left-back Moxham was adjudged to have handled in the box. Ryan Barnes had already made two saves from spot kicks this season, but was powerless to make it three on this occasion, with Levi Landricombe sending the Town incumbent the wrong way with his kick in the first minute of stoppage time.
A single-goal lead was hardly representative of the visitors’ dominance in the first period, but there was one more twist to come. Seeking an immediate response, Town got just that in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time with Bray-Evans racing into the box and coolly slotting underneath Robathan to the delight of the visiting supporters in front of him.
With the visitors no doubt overjoyed by that late sucker-punch before the break, Landricombe was keen to remind Town that Bodmin were still in the game when play resumed, firing over Barnes’ crossbar from a good position shortly after the restart.
But the majority of the second half mirrored that of the first, with Town dominating possession but often thwarted by the inspired Robathan, who drew applause from the travelling F-Troop behind his goal at the final whistle.
Nixon and Broglino cleared the crossbar with two efforts before Robathan’s weak clearance struck Barner and fell for Nixon, with the goalkeeper making amends to make a superb stop from point-blank range.
Bray-Evans, Nixon and Tom Annear were all denied by Robathan as the match ticked into the final quarter. The former Penryn man then pulled off a superb stop to bat away Barner’s fine glancing header, with the Bodmin defence somehow preventing the Town man’s follow-up from four yards from going into their net.
Robathan and defender Tom Chambers then thwarted Brabyn and substitute Alex Wharton respectively, but just as it started to seem that a fourth goal would elude the visitors, it duly arrived with little over seven minutes left on the clock.
For all of their expert attacking play, it was the tried and tested set-piece link-up that eventually did the trick, with skipper Ward meeting Broglino’s corner delivery at the near post and nodding it into the far corner to finally round off a dominant display.
Bodmin: A Robathan, A Davey, T Chambers, E Crawford, S Hepworth, R Kane, H Jeffery, T Burns, L Landricombe, F Harrison, N Hawkins. Subs: D Guild, I McCue, S Simmonds, D England, D Gilbert.
Falmouth: R Barnes, A Thompson (K Davies 83), T Moxham, S Kellow, T Annear, J Ward, L Brabyn, D Broglino, J Bray-Evans, L Barner, T Nixon (A Wharton 65). Subs (unused): T Clark, J Miller, A Westgarth.
[Featured image: Matt Friday / Cornwall Sports Media]