The fifth 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.

WITH the Blues at the top of the table with just four games left of the season, both promotion and the league title were in their hands.

Four wins would do it regardless of other results, but with games against title rivals Vospers Oak Villa and Sticker and a long trip to Holsworthy still to come, the path was anything but simple.

First up was the visit of Sticker, who were sitting three points behind the Blues having played two games more, meaning victory was a must if the Sticky were to stay in contention.

Despite making a bright start, Athletic found themselves a goal down in the 13th minute when a cross from the left found Sticker’s top goalscorer Jack Bowyer free in the penalty area, with the young striker controlling control the ball before hitting it into the net for his 41st goal of the league campaign.

Heads did not drop for those wearing Blue shirts when others might easily have done and within five minutes the scores were equal again when Tom Russell’s through ball set off Mark Goldsworthy, who cut a pass back for Charlie Young to slot home for the fifth game in a row.

Confidence among the home players was boosted by the equaliser and nine minutes later they went in front as home skipper Jamie Thomson rolled the ball to Jordan Adlard, who sent a pass over the top from just inside Sticker’s half which Matt Lloyd ran on to, beating the offside trap, and deftly lobbed over Ryan Holland.

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Jason Robertson makes a crucial intervention to deny Sticker striker Jack Bowyer. Pic: Phil Ruberry

After the break, Sticker knowing their championship hopes lay in the balance upped the intensity and pressed their opponents high up the pitch in an attempt to force mistakes.

Their best chance came in the 74th minute when Tom Russell gave the ball away in midfield and Bowyer was played through past the defence only to be brilliantly stopped by Jason Robertson, who raced out from the goal-line to beat the striker off the ball.

An outpouring of emotions came when Barry Jackson blew the final whistle after six agonising minutes of injury time, with cheers becoming bigger when the table toppers heard second-placed Vospers Oak Villa had lost 3-1 to Penryn Athletic.

Should Helston beat Vospers the following Saturday, which would be just three weeks after the Oaks won 2-1 at Kellaway Park, it would shake off another challenger to the crown and leave St Dennis as the only side who could overtake them with two games remaining.

Blues boss Sid Taylor said he was happy with the result but knew the job was not over yet.

Taylor said: “We knew having lost to them earlier in the season it was going to be tough against Sticker and it is a relief to win.

“We don’t do things the easy way and I thought we dominated the first half but just didn’t come out in the second, but fortunately we held on even though there was a bit of squeaky bum time going on.

“With Vospers slipping up too it makes the day better but St Dennis winning it still means we have to win three games to clinch the title.”

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With the league campaign reaching a critical point, the Blues could be forgiven for not approaching their Cornwall Charity Cup semi-final with title and promotion rivals St Dennis with as much enthusiasm as a cup semi-final would normally command.

But Taylor felt switching focus temporarily to another competition for 24 hours would benefit his side, saying: “In the changing room after Saturday’s game, all the players were actually saying, ‘thank god we’ve got a cup game next’.

“Our attitude is just to take things one game at a time and as soon as anyone starts looking further ahead I stop it, because it can be frightening to look that far ahead.

“Promotion is the big issue for us as a club and what we really want, but winning a cup would be good as well and while we’ll be looking to enjoy ourselves, hopefully we can win too.”

But they would have to make do with just one potential trophy after the Blues suffered extra-time heartbreak at Falmouth Town’s Bickland Park.

Saints striker Carl Rickard opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half, with his first-time shot on the volley creeping inside the far post, before Young netted for the sixth game in a row to send the game to extra-time.

It looked to be heading for penalties, but with two minutes left of the additional 30, Rickard pounced on a defensive error and lashed the ball past Jason Robertson to knock the Blues out.

With cup hopes over, it was time for the Blues to fully focus on the climax to their title bid – and a trip to Vospers.

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Sid Taylor (right) is gobsmacked with his side's two sendings off against Vospers Oak Villa. Pic: Phil Ruberry

When the two sides met just over three weeks ago at Kellaway Park, an injury time strike by Lewis Young saw Villa snatch a 2-1 victory.

The latest outing proved to be a much feistier affair with four red cards dished out by the referee just before the half hour mark, with Villa’s Lee Card and Neal Kinsman getting their marching orders alongside Athletic’s Charlie Young and Jamie Thomson.

Tempers flared when home skipper Card lifted up Athletic midfielder Young by the neck of his shirt after going down under a challenge.

This sparked furious scenes from the visitors and prompted a brawl to break out and once order was restored, four reds were shown.

However they did not let their frustrations get the better of them for too long as just after the interval, leading goalscorer Goldsworthy put his side in front with a lovely shot across the goalkeeper, with his 51st strike of the campaign equalling the league’s record for most goals in a season.

Villa nearly equalised straight away following a defensive mix up, but they had to wait until the 66th minute for the leveller when Steve Blackburn turned in Elliott Cunningham’s free kick.

The Blues could not find another goal in their locker and then deep into stoppage time, Cunningham’s cross found Young in the penalty area and Villa’s main threat slotted the ball home, with wild celebrations following.

Despite the loss, Athletic remained top of the league with two games to go after St Dennis drew 0-0 with Millbrook.

It meant that Helston would travel to Holsworthy knowing that victory could hand them the title with a game to spare.

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Charlie Young shows the damage done to his shirt in the melee against Vospers. Pic: Phil Ruberry

The Blues travelled to Holsworthy knowing a win for them, coupled with St Dennis drawing or losing against Bude Town, would guarantee them the championship.

Nerves appeared to grip Athletic and after six minutes the Magpies took a surprise lead when Matt Andrew slipped his marker and from the edge of the area fired a shot past Jason Robertson.

Parity was restored six minutes after the break when James Miller cut into the box from the left wing before sending a shot across Darren Rose and into the opposite side of the goal.

Within two minutes though Holsworthy were back in front when soft defending by Athletic saw Ward's long ball from a free kick find Ryan Lee, who headed it in.

But it did not take the Blues long to find another equaliser as Charlie Young got on the end of a cross in the 57th minute to nod home at the back post.

News soon came through saying Bude had come from 2-0 down to level matters at St Dennis, meaning a third goal would give Athletic the title.

They pushed up the pitch hunting for the crucial score, but the closest they came was in the first minute of injury time when substitute Matt Lloyd was found free in the area from a corner, but headed over.

Taylor said after the game: “As a team I thought the pressure got to us a little bit.

“I didn’t think Holsworthy were a good side but we gave them an early start which was a bad way to begin the game and we also let them get back ahead after some terrible defending from us.

“But when you look at it overall, we only needed four points from our final two games to secure the title and we’ve got one of those now and we just need to pick up the three more we need on Friday.

“At the beginning of the season, if you had said to me you’ll be playing the bottom team on the last day with a chance to win the league, I would have taken that. But it was frustrating not to get over the line already.”

The opportunity to win the title had been missed, but with St Dennis’ Boscawen Park failing the ground grading for promotion and Vospers Oak Villa not applying, promotion to the Premier was confirmed.

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Now Helston would travel to bottom club Perranporth for the final game of the season knowing a point would most likely be enough to win the title as their goal difference was 31 better than the Saints’.

“Having a goal difference that is double St Dennis’ is good because if things end level, then it acts as an extra point effectively,” Taylor said.

“During the week I’m just going to get the guys to clear their heads and relax so they do not come out so tight on the pitch.

“But other than that, we will stick with what we know in terms of preparation and what we need is just a better performance out of the lads on Friday night.”

A large contingent of Blues supporters made the journey to Ponsmere Valley to see if they could witness their side clinch the title – and they did just that.

In what was an emotional game for the hosts as well as the visitors, Helston ran out comfortable winners over bottom-placed Perranporth, who decided to take voluntary relegation after struggling in the league for the past few seasons.

The game was also notable for a milestone reached by Mark Goldsworthy, who beat his own record of 51 goals by scoring on the night to take his season's total to 52. He came off to rapturous applause when he was substituted in the second half.

The scoreline did not tell the whole story, as the hosts proved tough to break down. Charlie Young broke the deadlock just before half time, and Ryan Barnes made a string of saves to keep Perranporth in the game at that stage.

Goldsworthy added a second though, and it was left to substitute Mikey Davies to complete the scoring and seal three points and the league championship for Helston.

The Helston squad and management were presented with medals and the trophy by league chairman Mark Hayman following the final whistle, which started off the celebrations.

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Mark Goldsworthy celebrates his landmark goal against Perranporth. Pic: Phil Ruberry

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Helston chairman Paul Hendy, manager Sid Taylor and assistant Richard Full with the league trophy. Pic: Phil Ruberry

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The title-winning Helston Athletic team. Pic: Phil Ruberry