Without any great expectation, Lisburn began their Premier League season with a game against last season’s winners Instonians in Wallace Park on Saturday.
After overnight rain had made the prospects of a prompt start unlikely, the day in the Park improved well enough to allow the match to be played without interruption.
Lisburn having posted a less than sufficient 168, shocked their opponents when they had reduced them to 28 for 3. However, the class of James Shannon and Andrew White eventually saw Instonians through to a 7 wicket victory.
Lisburn’s captain, Davey Simpson won the toss and decided to bat first on a true but slow pitch and very damp outfield and openers Stephen Allen, making a brief appearance and Richard Simpson got the innings under way. The pair batted for 12 overs adding 34 for the first wicket before Allen was caught off the left arm spin of first change bowler, Zach Rush for 16.
Richard Simpson was joined by Robert Rankin and they were together for just 6 overs adding a further 24 before Rankin also fell to Rushe for 14 in the 18th over.
The best stand of the Lisburn innings followed when Simpson had professional Darryl Brown for his partner. The pair put on 45 in 12 overs with runs hard to come by on the slow outfield before Richard Simpson, just beginning to strike the ball better was caught at mid -wicket off the guileful bowling of ex Irish international Andrew White. Simpson had batted 30 overs for his 48 with three boundaries.
Brown continued with Lisburn skipper Davey Simpson and the pair added 35 more runs in the next 10 overs before Brown played a hopeful reverse sweep and was clean bowled by White for a useful 41 which included two well struck sixes.
The Lisburn score at this stage with only 7 overs left in the innings was an under par 136 for 4 after 43 overs. When Davey Simpson was also clean bowled in the 44th over the late order batting did their best to boost the score with Glen Halliday (7), Graeme Browne (10) and Richard McConkey not out on 12 adding 25 off the remaining overs. This left Lisburn with a final tally of 168 for 7 at the end of their allotted 50 overs; hardly enough to trouble the talented Instonians batting order.
However, Lisburn’s opening bowlers, Davey Simpson and Darryl Brown had a shock for the league champions. First Brown clean bowled the dangerous Neil Russell for 5 in the 3rd over and then Simpson had Eric Layard lbw in the 4th over leaving Instonians on 15 for 2.
Worse was to follow for the visitors when Simpson had Smith very well caught by Aaron McKeown at long on for 13 reducing them to 28 for 3 after 8 overs. At that point Lisburn must have had a fleeting glimmer of classic upset but unfortunately the pair of James Shannon and Andrew White had other ideas and they began to swing the game back towards Instonians.
The Lisburn change bowling had no answer to the class of the two fine all-rounders. The pace of Richard McConkey, Callum Atkinson and Graeme Browne plus the spin of Aaron McKeown could not break through the partnership and when Davey Simpson and Darryl Brown returned, the damage was done.
Having been on the brink of a disaster, Shannon and White rescued their team with a superb stand of 141 in 30 overs of controlled batting neither player offering a chance through their match winning partnership. The Instonians innings was completed in the 39th over when they reached the required target of 169, winning, in the end, comfortably by the large margin of 7 wickets.
Lisburn must be pleased with their initial fight back at the start of the Instonians reply but they also knew that their 50 over score of 168 was far from sufficient even in the slow conditions and their depth and quality of bowling left a lot to be desired against talented opposition.
This Saturday, Lisburn travel to Ballymena and even at this stage of the season, the game becomes crucial as their opponents are one of the weaker teams in the league and the winning points would give Davey Simpson and his team some confidence for the difficult season ahead.
S.Allen ct Russell b Rushe 16
R.Simpson ct Layard b White 48
R.Rankin lbw b Rushe 14
D.Brown b White 41
D.Simpson b Nurse 7
G.Halliday ct and b White 8
R.McConkey not out 12
G.Browne ct Nurse b Shannon 10
N.Kilpatrick not out 0
C.Atkinson did not bat
A.McKeown did not bat
Total 168 for 7 in 50 overs
Fall of wkts 1-34 2-56 3-101 4-136 5-138 6-145 7-165
Instonians bowling R.Nurse 10-0-23-1 E.Moleon 10-3-14-0 Z.Rushe 10-1-25-2 A.White 10-0-46-3 S.Bunting 2-0-15-0 J.Shannon 8-1-40-1
N.Russell b Brown 5
E.Layard lbw b D.Simpson 3
N.Smith ct McKeown b D.Simpson 13
J.Shannon not out 87
A.White not out 51
Total 169 for 3 in 38.2 overs
Fall of wkts 1-10 2-15 3-28
Lisburn bowling D.Simpson 8-0-27-2 D.Brown 10-1-38-1 R.McConkey 4.2-0-28-0 C.Atkinson 10-0-44-0 G.Browne 4-0-21-0 A.McKeown 2-0-10-0
Result - Instonians won by 7 wickets.
Lisburn team to play Ballymena at Eaton Park on Saturday at 1pm is:
D.Simpson (capt), D.Brown, R.Rankin, R.Simpson, R.McConkey, J.Magowan, C.Atkinson, N.Kilpatrick, G.Halliday, A.McKeown, G Browne.