It was not quite the fairytale start to the season that Porthleven would have been hoping for as Sticker walked away from Gala Parc with four goals and three points in their opening South West Peninsula League game of the season.

Fishermen players, clubmen and supporters would have been anticipating today’s opening match like kids at Christmas as competitive football finally returned after almost six months away following the coronavirus pandemic.

But things swiftly turned sour as Sticker scored three times in the first 17 minutes through Sonny Dover, Derrick Lucas and Frank McAvoy in a devastating opening quarter, and while Dan Quirke pulled one back shortly before the break, a second from Lucas early in the second half ensured a miserable return to action for the home side.

The ‘new normal’ was evident at Gala Parc as a spaced-out crowd, yellow floor markings for social distancing, watch both sides pre-match team talks take place on the pitch before kick-off.

Sticker settled first as a couple of early efforts from Tom Tallis and Alfie Flack were followed up by the opening goal in only the eighth minute, with a quick move from back to front resulting in Dover lobbing the ball over Martyn Webster and into the net.

Porthleven responded with shots from the lively frontmen of Kyle Fraser and Ross Duncan, with the latter having a goal ruled out for using his hand to control a long pass.

That was a big moment as Sticker instantly went up the other end and doubled their lead, with Lucas tucking a low cross past Webster from six yards out in the 15th minute.

Fishermen supporters will remember their side’s superb comeback from going two goals down early on to win 3-2 back in February, but there was hardly any time for Port to remind themselves of this before they were picking the ball out of the net for a third time.

Another swift attack saw one blocked effort fall kindly for the unmarked McAvoy to fire home on the left side of the box as the rampant visitors moved further clear of their misfiring hosts.

To their credit, Graham Blake’s side rolled up their sleeves and enjoyed a much better second half of the first half, with Fraser striking the post from a corner before setting up Port’s goal on the half-hour. The winger won the ball in the box and fired in a low cross through the six-yard box for Quirke to smash home.

All of a sudden, the hosts had their tails up, with Duncan almost heading in from Fraser’s cross before right-back Billy Edwards struck the bar with a header.

They could not take advantage of their dominance as Sticker escaped to the break, but Port came back out firing in the second half as Quirke shot inches wide before Charlie Young almost broke through and slotted past Coxhead, although a combination of ‘keeper and offside flag denied him.

But then it was game, set and match as Sticker restored their three-goal lead just before the hour, with Lucas racing to meet a fine through ball and planting it into the far corner.

The rest of the game petered out with the stuffing having been well and truly knocked out of the hosts. Fraser did his best to gee up his team with several enticing crosses, only for a red shirt to mop them up.

Hopes of a late consolation were dashed as Coxhead pulled off a good save to deny Isaac Dryburgh’s header before he thwarted both Fraser and Duncan in injury time.

Porthleven: M Webster, M Laithwaite, B Edwards, J Thomson, M Roberts, J Harrison, D Quirke, D Richardson, R Duncan, C Young, K Fraser. Subs: G Mills, I Dryburgh, S Leslie.