FALMOUTH Town’s FA Vase dream came to an end in the cruellest of fashions as Town suffered a penalty shootout defeat at Christchurch in their third-round tie on Sunday.

Ash Pope had given the hosts an early lead before James Ward levelled for Town in the final minutes of normal time to send the game to penalties.

Town took an early lead in the shootout but were pegged back before Olly Walker’s seventh kick was saved, allowing Nick Swann to score the decisive penalty for the hosts as they sent Falmouth out of the competition for the second year running.

Andrew Westgarth’s side found themselves on the back foot early on as the hosts edged in front after just eight minutes, with Pope evading the challenge of David Broglino before tucking the ball past Ryan Barnes from the centre of the box.

The goal was the only thing to separate the sides during the first 45 minutes with the teams largely matching each other in all areas, with neither ‘keeper given much to do. Pope called Barnes into action with a shot before teeing up Harvey Wright to volley over the bar.

Pope then forced an important save out of Barnes to tip his long-range free-kick over the crossbar, with Town going up the other end moments later via returning forward Marcello Jones who squared it to Tom Annear, but the defender could only fire wide of the target.

Town were the better side in the second half and quickly set about trying to level the scores. Luke Brabyn called goalkeeper Lewis Gunstone-Gray into action early in the half before the ‘keeper denied David Broglino’s ambitious volley.

The visitors were well on top and it was nearly Scott Kellow who hauled them level in sensational style when a cross was cleared towards him. The midfielder took the ball out of the sky, striking it at goal on the volley from distance, but Gunstone-Gray was able to scramble across his goal and pounce on it.

Christchurch were still threatening on the break and almost put the tie to bed on two occasions, with Toby Clark cutting out Mickey Finch’s final ball to Max Wilcock following a quick break before Will Fletcher’s strike was snuffed out by Barnes.

But Town finally got the goal their second-half pressure had deserved with four minutes to play. Town forced two corners in quick succession, with Broglino’s second delivery meeting the head of Ward who powered the ball home from ten yards.

Neither side could find a winner in the dying embers so the tie went to penalties, and it was Town who drew first blood when Barnes saved Fletcher’s kick.

Brabyn, Annear and Jones scored for Town before Kellow’s fourth kick was saved, allowing Finch to level it up at 3-3.

Broglino and Nixon scored for the visitors as the shootout entered sudden death, but Walker’s crucial seventh kick was saved by Gunstone-Gray to allow Swann to rifle in the decisive penalty and break Cornish hearts.

Christchurch: L Gunstone-Gray, E Ohameje, B Hill, H Wright, B Walker, N Swann, B Satterley, L Delaney, W Fletcher, M Wilcock, A Pope. Subs: J Kirkham, M Finch, K Graham, L Ansell, M Hubbard, J Johnstone, M Frampton.

Falmouth: R Barnes, J Webber (R Martt 86), T Annear, S Kellow, T Clark, J Ward, L Barner (O Walker 66), D Broglino, L Brabyn, M Jones, T Nixon. Subs (unused): O Moody, A Westgarth, J Miller, C Davis.