The third in a special five-part series looking back at Helston Athletic’s run to the South West Peninsula League Division 1 West title in 2015.

Helston were hoping to put an end to their disappointing run of just two wins in six games in Division 1 West when they welcomed eighth-placed Dobwalls to Kellaway Park at the end of November.

The home side came quickly out of the blocks and were rewarded when Hugh Howlett scored in the 17th minute with a good finish, before Dan Lawrence evened things up before half time.

Athletic once again came out full of intent in the second period, and Hugh Howlett again made the pressure tell, heading home for his second of the match ten minutes after the restart.

Dan Stidwell was brought down in the area shortly after, Mark Goldsworthy scoring the spot kick to increase Helston’s lead.

Dobwalls never gave in though, and Matt Hawes scored a spectacular goal to set Helston nerves jangling, but Mark Goldsworthy coolly slotted home to put the result beyond doubt.

Helston manager Sid Taylor was pleased to put their defeat to Penryn behind them and beat Dobwalls.

Having been in patchy form since their excellent start to the season, the three points at home were welcome.

“After losing last time against Penryn we were a bit frustrated and it was good to get back to winning ways,” Taylor said. “I’ve been telling the players the important thing is every team goes through losing spells, it’s important how you bounce back, and so far we have bounced back well. The league is very tight and it’s important to get belief back.

Another tussle with Penryn was looming, however, as Athletic made the trip to Helston for their Cornwall Senior Cup clash at the start of the December – and it was a case of third time lucky as the Blues finally got one over their rivals.

Kevin Lawrence had fired a depleted Penryn side in front early in the second half, but a pair of strikes from Goldsworthy and Robertson quickly turned the tie on its head, before a second from Robertson effectively sealed victory.

Dave Leach pulled one back with five minutes to go to make the Blues sweat, but they held on to reach the third round – where they would take on another familiar face in Wendron United.

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Penryn's Sean Johnson and Helston's Dan Stidwell battle in the air. Pic: Phil Ruberry

Another cup tie beckoned first as Helston made the long trip to Exeter University for their Walter C Parson League Cup third round tie.

The trip back would have felt even longer after the Blues suffered their biggest defeat of the season, losing 5-1 to the students.

The only bright spot was Goldsworthy netting his 250th goal for the club from the spot in the 84th minute.

"It is disappointing to be out of the cup, but it does give us more time to focus on the league which is our main priority,” Taylor said after the game.

Concentrate on the league they did, and things looked to be going swimmingly for the Blues when Goldsworthy fired in from Westgarth’s pass to land goal number 251 in the 65th minute of their trip to Mousehole.

But instead they had to settle for a draw in a game they dominated as Billy Curtis popped up unmarked at the back post to send a header into the net in the fourth and final minute of second-half injury time.

“If you had asked me before the game, I would have been pleased with a point,” Taylor said.

“The ideal situation was to try and win but make sure we didn’t lose against a side who are chasing promotion like we are.

“That is what we managed to do, but it is a disappointment that we could not hold onto the lead as we deserved a win in my opinion.”

The result did not affect either club’s position in Division 1 West with Mousehole staying seventh and Athletic fifth – with the Blues six points behind Illogan RBL, who took the Christmas number one spot.

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Blues man Jamie Thirkle and Mousehole's Owain Barrett battle for the ball. Pic: Phil Ruberry

Fans were given an extra Christmas treat at Gala Parc on Boxing Day as Porthleven and Helston Athletic battled for the Mayor’s Cup – the first time the trophy had been played for since the 1960s.

“The brilliant thing about derby fixtures is form does go out of the window and although we are probably expected to win, we know it will be a tough match,” Taylor said before the derby duel.

And so that prediction would prove, as while the Blues ran out 5-2 winners in the Boxing Day clash, they had to wait until the dying minutes to do so.

Helston broke the deadlock after just five minutes when Goldsworthy squad to Jamie Thirkle to score, but Port made Westgarth pay for missing a huge chance to double the lead soon after when Jordan Annear levelled on 18 minutes.

But on the stroke of half time, it would be Athletic who went back in front when Goldsworthy’s cross from the right found Westgarth and the forward, keen to make up for not scoring earlier, made amends with his header.

Annear equalised again for the home team with 25 minutes remaining when he latched onto a ball through the middle from his elder brother Tom to fire past Jason Robertson, but Blues man Tom Russell put his former side behind again when he blasted a shot past Benji Bryant.

Bryant then kept his side in it by saving Goldsworthy’s penalty, but the sucker punch was delivered with a minute of normal time remaining when James Miller played through Goldsworthy who slotted an effort home.

Then in the final play of the game, a corner for Athletic found Hugh Howlett in the middle of penalty area and the central defender thumped a header home as Helston ended 2014 with another victory.

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Helston pose with the Mayor's Cup after defeating Porthleven. Pic: Phil Ruberry

The Blues started the next year as they ended the last with another five-goal victory – this time a 5-0 win at home to Bude Town, with Taylor declaring after the game that his side have rediscovered the stellar form they had at the start of the season.

With the majority of fixtures in the division falling foul of the waterlogged pitches, the Blues were able to take advantage of this to leapfrog Mousehole and Penryn Athletic.

Goldsworthy was prolific as ever hitting a brace for Athletic while Howlett, Thirkle and Westgarth also netted in windy conditions.

Although he did not get on the scoresheet, Hedie Santos impressed for the hosts with a hard-working display.

Afterwards, Taylor said: “I thought the lads played the best they have for a few weeks and it feels like we are getting back to the form we showed at the start of the season.

“Despite what their league position suggests, Bude are a good and well organised side who have pulled off a couple of shocks this season, especially beating Penryn 5-0.

“But we dominated the first half and playing against a strong wind in the second may have actually helped us a bit as we had to keep the ball on the floor, which is how we like it.”

An important weekend was coming up for Helston as they hosted fellow promotion chasers Liskeard Athletic.

At the same time, two other fixtures in the division saw sides in the top seven places face each other, with leaders Sticker travelling to Penryn and Mousehole playing St Dennis.

“It is going to be a big weekend for the division,” Taylor said. “Getting another win would be a good thing for us as we could go top again depending on how the other games pan out.

“Even if we don’t end up on top at the end of Saturday, what we have to maintain though is our league position as it keeps pressure on our rivals.”

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Blues skipper Jamie Thomson lifts the cup with Chris Strike. Pic: Phil Ruberry

The Blues were boosted ahead of the game by the return of Charlie Young, who had departed the club a month earlier after saying there were “problems” that needed sorting out.

Speaking to the Packet, Young said: “I needed a break away from Helston as there were issues which I was unhappy about.

“Now I feel these issues have been resolved and I am glad to be back with the squad and I want to help us fight for promotion to the Premier Division next season.

“I missed the boys a lot and Sid Taylor has stayed in touch ever since I told him I was going to take a break.”

Young made his return as a 68th minute sub against Liskeard, but the Blues were home and hosed by then after putting five goals past the east Cornwall side, with goals coming from Goldsworthy and Westgarth, who bagged two each, plus a fine strike by Dan Stidwell.

Following the win and with other results going in their favour, Athletic returned to the top of the table on goal difference.

Taylor said he was ecstatic with his team’s performance and was the form they have picked up in recent matches.

“I thought it was the best we’ve played defensively for a while and we attacked well too,” he said.

“In the last five league games, we have won four and drawn one and that is putting pressure on our rivals and we just need to keep doing the same things each week to keep it up.”

Next up was their cup rematch with Wendron as the local rivals met at the Underlane for their Senior Cup clash.

It was the second time the teams had clashed this season as they met in the Charity Cup on November 1. Athletic won this tie 4-3, but Dron forced the match into extra time before succumbing.

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Andrew Westgarth (right) celebrates the first of his two goals against Liskeard Athletic. Pic: Phil Ruberry

But this time the team from the Jolly’s Combination League upset the odds against the South West Peninsula League West side with a well organised performance in slippery conditions.

The hosts flew out of the traps and Chris Mulroy opened the scoring after just seven minutes before the same man won the penalty that Justin Miles converted to double the lead at the break.

Helston huffed and puffed in the second half but could not find their way through, with their misery completed in the final minutes as both Hugh Howlett and Hedie Santos were sent off.

To add insult to injury, Sticker leapfrogged the Blues at the top of the Division 1 West table following a 2-1 win over Porthleven.

After the game, Taylor said his side will now be focused on chasing promotion.

“It doesn’t feel good to be knocked-out and to be honest we just didn’t turn up or play well enough,” he said.

“You have to give credit to Wendron they battled well and took the chances they did create well and it looked like they wanted it a bit more than us.

“The condition of the pitch was a bit of a leveller, but we huffed and puffed but just couldn’t get anything.

“It won’t dent our confidence though and now we can concentrate on the league and what is important is that we bounce back when we play Millbrook on Saturday.”

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