HELSTON Athletic may have proved they can mix it with the best after dumping premier division St Austell out of the Throgmorton Cup on Saturday, but manager Sid Taylor insists joining them in the top flight next season is the biggest challenge his players will face in the months ahead.
Taylor's men comfortably proved that they are capable of playing at a higher level, James Miller's 86th minute wonder strike completing a memorable afternoon at Kellaway Parc in which Helston completely outplayed their opponents in a 3-1 win over the Lillywhites (match report page 106).
But it is achieving their ultimate goal of premier division football that Taylor admits will be Athletic's biggest test.
Despite being tagged as favourites for the division one west title at the start of the season, Helston have so far been eclipsed by Godolphin and Wadebridge, who have won every league game so far.
Taylor said: "St Austell's a game we've waited for because we've wanted to test ourselves against a premier team.
"Win or lose you learn about your players. If they lose you see how they react, and if they're up to that standard or would they give up.
"But against St Austell we made a great start, scored two early goals, creating chance after chance.
"We outplayed them and I'm delighted for the boys.
"It shows that we are capable of competing at that level, but there's a long way to go if we want to be playing premier division football next season."
Taylor's men will face another test of their premier division credentials in the third round of the Throgmorton Cup when they travel to Penzance, who caused one of the shocks of the round by knocking out Falmouth Town 4-3 in what turned out to be Alan Carey's final game in charge of Town.
Helston return to the league on Saturday when they travel to struggling Holsworthy, who have lost all seven league games so far this season.
Taylor said: "We've just got to keep going, beating St Austell is a massive boost for the lads and hopefully we can kick on in the league."
Porthleven manager Dennis Annear, meanwhile, will be looking for a positive response from his players when they travel to Perranporth on Saturday.
The Fishermen were beaten 4-2 by Truro City at the weekend.