MAX Gilbert hit a hat-trick as Liskeard Athletic fought back from 2-1 down to triumph 5-2 against St Dennis in a cracking opening game of the South West Peninsula League season played in dreadful conditions at Lux Park last night.

Gilbert fired the Blues into a seventh-minute lead with a 20-yard free-kick, but St Dennis equalised in the 33rd minute when Ruben Kane turned a Matt Mazzoni cross into his own net.

Two minutes later, Martin Sleeman hit a stunning long-range volley to put the visitors in front after the Blues had only half cleared a free-kick, and they led 2-1 at the break.

St Dennis were defending heroically, with goalkeeper Ryan Holland pulling off a number of fine saves, but Liskeard regrouped at the interval and came out all guns blazing in the second period.

Gilbert swept home his second of the game after 56 minutes, and three minutes later, Mike Smith put Liskeard back in front with a far-post header from Dan Jennings' cross.

An excellent strike by substitute Finn Bartlett after 67 minutes and Gilbert's hat-trick goal six minutes later wrapped up victory, though St Dennis still threatened late on.

Liskeard are in FA Cup action on Saturday when they travel to Toolstation Western League Premier Division side Bridgwater United.