THE Hellenic League Premier season kicks off this week and all three Worcestershire sides are in action on opening night. 

The stand-out fixture on Tuesday is last season's fourth-placed finishers Worcester Raiders vs newly promoted, and local rivals, Pershore Town at the Community Stadium (7.45 pm kick-off). 

As for Worcester City, they welcome Tuffley Rovers to Claines Lane at the same time in their first fixture in this division after being moved over from the Midland Football League over the summer. 

The new play-off system will mean that second place down to fifth will enter the semi-finals and then a final will decide the second team to be promoted with the league winners. But how will each of the three Worcestershire sides get on this year?

Worcester News: Can Worcester Raiders better their fourth-placed finish from last season?Can Worcester Raiders better their fourth-placed finish from last season? (Image: Worcester Raiders)

Raiders to go one better?

It has been a brilliant summer for Karl Gormley's men. Eight wins from eight pre-season matches see them go into the new campaign in fine form, on the back of some really impressive victories. 

Comprehensive performances over Step 3 teams Redditch United and Halesowen Town were the stand-out results, but they have fired in plenty of goals along the way, scoring 28 goals in the process. 

The winning momentum, as well as the fact the majority of the players from last season have remained at the club, make Raiders strong title contenders this year and gain promotion into Step 4. 

Worcester News: Isaac Cooper will once again be a key player for Worcester RaidersIsaac Cooper will once again be a key player for Worcester Raiders (Image: Through The Lens)

They have had a year at this level and that experience should prove hugely valuable. Expect Corsham Town and Worcester City to be up there with them but there is no reason why Raiders cannot win this league.

Key Player: Isaac Cooper 

Prediction: 1st

Worcester News: It is a big season for manager Chris Cornes and his Worcester City side It is a big season for manager Chris Cornes and his Worcester City side (Image: Through The Lens)

New team, new success for City?

Manager Chris Cornes always said a substantial clearout at the club was required after last season and he did just that. 13 new signings have been made over the summer, with plenty of non-league experience coming into the club, as well as some real quality. 

A lot of those signings have come down a level to play under Cornes this year and many of them have connections with Worcester, whether that be through having played for the club before or being at other clubs in the local area.

Moving over to the Hellenic League should make things a little easier for City. The league is less physical than the MFL but the quality of football is no different and some of the surfaces they will play on this season will be significantly better than what they have come to expect in years gone by.

A quick start will be key for Cornes' men. They have one of the best squads in the league but with so many new faces, it could take some time for everything to gel, as we have seen in their pre-season matches.

But with Corsham Town and Raiders knowing the league, City cannot afford to let them get too far ahead early doors. But Cornes' men should be right up there this season. 

Key Player: Liam Lockett 

Prediction: 3rd 

Worcester News: Lewis Marston is the new manager at Pershore TownLewis Marston is the new manager at Pershore Town (Image: Geoff Moore)

Newbies Pershore can surprise a few 

Having suffered the blow of losing manager Danny Janes at the end of last season, plenty thought Pershore would struggle this year after being promoted into the Premier Division.

But under new boss Lewis Marston, he has been able to hold onto the majority of those players who helped the Plums to the title in Division One last season. They cruised that league in truth and were far too good for the division, so they will not be looking to just stay up this year.

Marston has already spoke of his aims for the season and he believes his side can reach the play-offs (top five). Whilst that might be tough and they are up against some really top sides, there is no reason why they cannot make a real push towards the top of the table. 

Key Player: Josh Willis 

Prediction: 6th