Lisburn took the current pressure of themselves to a degree when they travelled to Comber and defeated North Down in a very tense Premier League match last Saturday.
The game’s fortunes swung frequently during the afternoon but eventually after a great fight back in the Lisburn late innings and a rain intervention, they managed to win by the slender margin of just 2 runs.
Lisburn won the toss and for 12 overs Richard Simpson and Robert Rankin seemed to be in little trouble against a North Down attack which showed few teeth but the opening stand of 42 was broken when Simpson was caught for 12 bringing captain Adam Berry top the crease.
He joined Robert Rankin who was showing some good form after a lean period. They added 20 in five overs before Berry was clean bowled by North Down professional Malan for a quick-fire 12.
Rankin continued to bat with some authority until the 20th over when he unfortunately was caught behind the wicket for a very good 43 scored off 65 balls leaving Lisburn at 73 for 3.
At this point the Lisburn middle order should have responded to the situation but over the space of the next seven overs they lost last week’s century maker, Nathan Waller, Stevie Lazars and Davey Simpson while adding just 20 runs and causing big problems for the Lisburn innings.
Thankfully the Lisburn professional Cody Chetty was determined enough to battle for a reasonable innings score and with the help of Simon Olphert who showed good support in adding a further 22 runs in a useful 7th wicket stand.
Chetty was in control of the partnership but the pair were progressing well until Olphert was caught for 8 having spent 7 overs at the wicket.
Lisburn were now tottering on the brink on yet another disaster being 115 for 7 and things did not improve when Mark Berry was also caught for a ‘duck’ and it looked ominous for Lisburn sitting on the precarious score of 119 for 8 but Richard McConkey provided the necessary late support for the Lisburn professional. With 15 overs still remaining in the innings the pair began to pull the game round and with a series of good shots and positive running between the wickets they added a priceless 45 runs for the 9th wicket despite all the attempted bowling changes by a frustrated North Down captain.
The stand came to an end in the 47th over when McConkey was bowled by Mulder for a vital 29 taking the Lisburn tally to 159 for 9 and Callum Atkinson the Lisburn number 10 was able to keep his wicket in- tact to enable Chetty to boost the score.
The pair took the score to 184 before Atkinson was caught and bowled by Shields for a valuable 3 leaving Chetty exactly 50 not out having batted for 2 and a half hours to save his side from another low score and giving North Down a competitive target of 185 to win.
North Down began their run chase in disastrous fashion losing three wickets in the first four overs; Mulder was caught by Richard Simpson off brother Davey’s bowling in the 3rd over and he was quickly followed by Ewing, clean bowled three balls later and Mark Berry chipped in with the wicket of Graham, again clean bowled leaving the home side on 16 for 3.
Heavy rain then set in for the best part of an hour and when play resumed North Down were faced with Duckworth/Lewis par score of 178 in 41 overs which professional Malan and number five batsman for North Down, Ally Shields set about.
The pair batted with more authority than their predecessors adding 33 in the next six overs before Lisburn effected a large turning point in the game, Callum Atkinson had replaced Mark Berry and with his fourth ball he had professional Malan brilliantly caught at full stretch by Simon Olphert behind the wicket. This was the wicket Lisburn so badly needed and his dismissal left North Down on 49 for 4 after 12 overs.
Ally Shields had taken the role of anchor man in the North Down innings and with Peter Eaken put on 25 in the following 7 overs before Eaken was caught behind the wicket by Olphert off the spin of Stevie Lazars and Irvine was clean bowled by the same bowler in his next over leaving Lisburn well placed and North Down struggling at 121 for 6 in the 32nd over.
This left the home team with a further 67 runs to get in the remaining 9 overs with Shields having no thoughts of giving up his wicket.
He formed a partnership with Davison which produced a further 20 runs and with the aid of the North Down latter order took his team to the point where they required 19 off the last two overs.
Mark Berry had returned to the attack to claim the wickets of Davison and wicket- keeper Irvine leaving Shields and number eleven batsman, veteran Billy Adams to face the concluding overs.
Only three came off Richard McConkey’s last over but in the last over Shields hit Davey Simpson for a four, six and two leaving five to get off the last ball; Simpson then inexplicably bowled a no ball which gave Shields a free hit but he could only manage two leaving the visitors with the slimmest of two run victories.
The win will give Lisburn some relief from relegation concerns and they could be further eased if they can see off Derriaghy in the Park on Saturday. The two sides are level on points at the bottom of the Premier League at the moment, meaning Saturday’s match is vital to both sides.
R.Simpson ct Ewing b Malan 11
R.Rankin ct Irvine b Malan 43
A.Berry b Malan 12
C.Chetty not out 50
S.Lazars ct and b Mulder 1
N.Waller ct Malan b Eakin 12
D.Simpson ct Ewing b Eakin 2
S.Olphert ct Moreland b Shields 8
M.Berry ct Irvine b Davison 0
R.McConkey b Mulder 29
C.Atkinson ct and b Shields 3
Total 184 all out in 49.5 overs.
Fall of wkts 1-42 2-62 3-73 4-75 5-88 6-93 7-115 8-116 9-164 10-184
North Down bowling P.Davison 10-0-30-1 W.Adams 5-0-21-0 P.Malan 10-3-26-3 J.Mulder10-0-56-2 P.Eakin 5-2-7-2 M.Moreland 3-0-16-0 A.Shields 6.5-0-24-2
North Down innings;
D.Graham b M.Berry 6
J.Mulder ct R.Simpson b D.Simpson 1
R.Ewing b D.Simpson 4
P.Malan ct Olphert b Atkinson 7
A.Shields not out 91
P.Eakin ct Olphert b Lazars 12
S.Irvine b Lazars 0
P.Davison lbw b M.Berry 19
C.Irvine ct Atkinson b M.Berry 2
M.Moreland b McConkey 13
W.Adams not out 1
Total 176 all out in 41 overs
Fall of wkts 1-6 2-10 3-16 4-49 5-74 6-83 7-125 8-127 9-152 10-176
Lisburn bowling; D.Simpson 8-0-32-2 M.Berry 8-1-32-3 S.Lazars 9-1-24-2 C.Atkinson 8-1-38-1 N.Waller 3-0-15-0 R.McConkey 5-0-26-1
Result: Lisburn won by 2 runs using Duckworth /Lewis scoring method.