PORTHLEVEN may now look set to lift the Dave Gardner Memorial Tournament trophy on Sunday, but the positive signs stretch a lot further than the weekend.

The Fishermen pulled off an excellent 3-1 win at home to Helston Athletic last night, with Jordan Adlard's penalty, an own goal from Kyle Fraser's free-kick and Dan Richardson's diving header sealing a superb victory over their local rivals.

Hugh Howlett responded with a late consolation, but it was not enough to avoid a first defeat of pre-season for the Blues.

Port look the part

When the restructure was announced, I believed all clubs joining the South West Peninsula League Premier from the now-defunct Division 1 West would struggle in the higher division, bar the top two of Liskeard Athletic and Mousehole.

I will now add Porthleven into that category.

Yes, it may be foolish to make predictions based on pre-season, but I feel that the Fishermen have enough about them to make a real impression in their new league this year.

The new coaching duo of Graham Blake and Jamie Thomson have come in with fresh ideas, added some fresh faces and appear to have galvanised the club.

The SWPL Premier experience that Ed Timmons and Tom Whipp bring will be crucial, with both making a positive impression last night. Whipp was calmness personified at times as he displaced some of Helston's attacks with ease.

Dan Richardson brings the same qualities to the midfield, while Tyler Oliver alongside has that tenacity and that desire to close down and hurry opponents – a key theme of Thomson and Blake's tactical remit.

The pair, and Jordan Adlard, were spraying balls out to wide men Fraser and Dan Stidwell – more on them in a moment – at the earliest opportunity, with the defence unable to live with their pace at times.

I would imagine success for Porthleven this season would be a mid-table finish as they adapt to their new surroundings, but don't rule out a top-ten or top-eight finish.

Kyle could be key

Porthleven forward Kyle Fraser could play a significant part in Porthleven's fortunes this season if his pre-season showing is anything to go by.

He was a lively figure in the 12-0 mauling of Troon but has looked similarly impressive against both Penzance and Helston, with his raw pace and willingness to run at defenders causing all kinds of problems for their respective backlines.

There were several occasions last night where he would knock a ball past the full-back, sprint past him despite a yard or so handicap, and sling a cross into the box - a huge weapon to have.

He has a mean cross on him, by the way, and it was his free-kick delivery that set up the second goal of the game.

This is The West Country:

Kyle Fraser (right) shields the ball from Lewis Tonkin

Dan is the man

Fraser is far from the only pacey and potent weapon in Blake and Thomson's armoury, however. Former Helston forward Dan Stidwell shows many of the same characteristics as his team-mate, and brings plenty of experience too.

Stidwell has been plying his trade for Helston's reserve side in the Combination League for the last couple of seasons - scoring 23 goals in 208/19 - after previously being part of the Blues' SWPL side, and the striker took to the step-up in class like a duck to water.

He wasn't as lively as he was against Penzance, but he still showed signs of being able to bully the defence of a side that has been tipped by many to win this season's inaugural SWPL Premier West.

With Stidwell on one side and Fraser on the other, Premier defences better beware...

Blues feeling blue

Just three days after Helston swept aside a strong Falmouth Town team, ten of the same 11 Blues boys started and struggled against Porthleven.

I - and I will not be alone here - watched that performance against Falmouth and thought that it could well be the first time I was watching the inaugural SWPL Premier West champions.

Fast forward three days, and you wouldn't have thought so.

Everything just seemed a bit off; the energy levels, the link-up play, the final balls into the box. It didn't seem like anything to be overly concerned about from a Helston point of view, it was just a bit flat.

This is The West Country:

Helston go 3-0 down as Dan Richardson heads in a free-kick at the near post

It is worth remembering that – and I mean no disservice to Porthleven, who were also without a handful of first-team players – Helston were missing around half of their first-team squad for last night's game.

Liam Eddy, Phil Cattran, Josh Storey, Kai Cornish, Matt Bye, Neil Slateford, Ryan Beattie, Scott Beattie, George Roberts and Ryan Chinn were all unavailable – almost an entire team.

But that is the nature of the beast that is pre-season, in that there are so many variable factors: players are on holiday, squads are incomplete, fitness levels and tactics need work, new players need to adapt, and there is no true competitive edge to games.

I'm sure Steve Massey and everyone else associated with Helston will be disappointed with last night's game. Should they lose any sleep over it? Probably not.

Next up

Massey takes his Helston side to his former stomping ground of Treyew Road to take on Truro City on Friday night, before both sides conclude their pre-season campaign with the Dave Gardner Finals Day at Penzance on Sunday.

Port will be big favourites to lift this year's trophy, but Helston and the winner of tonight's tie between Penzance and Falmouth, still have a slim hope should the Fishermen slip up on Sunday.