FALMOUTH Town are one step closer to Wembley after they saw off the challenge of Gloucestershire club Bishop’s Cleeve in their third round proper tie at Bickland Park on Saturday.

Luke Brabyn put Town in front in the fourth minute before Ashley Caldwell levelled shortly before the break after Town ‘keeper Ryan Barnes had saved a penalty, only for Luke Barner to restore the lead in first-half stoppage time.

Neither side could add to the score after the break as Town closed out the game, with Bishop’s Cleeve pair Matt Sysum and Archie Haskayne being sent off late after a tackle on Scott Kellow sparked a mass brawl.

Town will now visit Christchurch in the third round next weekend after the Wessex League side won their second round tie in Dorset.

A delighted Town boss Andrew Westgarth told the Packet: “I thought we thoroughly deserved to be in the next round of the cup. Defensively we were fantastic as a unit, I thought we broke well, and if anything, 2-1 was a bit flattering with the chances we had.

“I thought their goalkeeper was excellent; I can count five or six big chances that we had and probably should have put away.”

Westgarth heaped praise on forward Luke Brabyn, who opened the scoring with a cool finish in the fourth minute and continued to excel in his lone forward role.

“Brabyn is making that role his own now,” Westgarth said. “His link-up play, his movement, his dribbling ability now, he thoroughly deserved his goal. I think that takes him to Falmouth Town’s all-time top goalscorer in the FA Vase, so a great achievement for him and hopefully he can get more.”

He added: “He isn’t going to get you 40 or 50 goals a season, but what he does – his link-up play, his unselfishness, his willingness to run – that allows other players to score.

“You look at [Tim] Nixon today, at Barner, the chances they had. Brabyn’s role is key for us.”

The game was marred by a mass brawl between players and management from both sides following a late lunge on Town midfielder Scott Kellow.

Both Sysum and Haskayne received red cards for their part in the melee, while Town goalkeeper Ryan Barnes received a yellow card.

“It’s one of those ones, isn’t it?” Westgarth said. “I think it’s frustration from them and I think it all stems from they can’t handle losing to a team lower than them.

“They think they’ve got a God-given right to win and they can’t handle it and they’re letting that frustration show. How dare little Falmouth beat a step 5 side from Cheltenham.

“I’ve got no sympathy for them and I think we deserved everything we got.”

Town will not have a long wait for their third-round tie, which is coming up next Saturday.

It will see Town making their second trip to Wessex League side Christchurch within the space of 13 months, after the teams met at the Dorset club’s Hurn Bridge Sports Ground at the same stage of last year’s competition on November 30, 2019.

Jon Blake and Kyle Graham scored either side of a goal from Brabyn as Town lost 2-1, with Christchurch going on to lose by the same score to Sutton Common Rovers in the next round.

It has been a good season for cup competitions for the Church, who recorded their best-ever FA Cup run, reaching the third qualifying round.

They came within a whisker of the fourth and final qualifying round, taking National League South side Dulwich Hamlet to penalties in a tie broadcast live by the BBC, but the Dorset club lost the shootout 3-2 after a 1-1 draw after extra time.

“It’s a bit weird, our cup draws,” Westgarth said. “We always used to get Helston or St Austell and now we’re always getting Christchurch.

“On the positive side of that, I’ve stayed in contact with their manager Ollie [Cherrett]. [He’s a] great guy, he always speaks to me and it’ll be great.

“It’s just a shame under the circumstances considering the lockdowns and restrictions in place [away fans and clubhouse use are both limited], but I’ll enjoy tonight [Saturday] and concentrate on next week, next week.”