BLUE skies and golden sunshine marked the start of the 2019 Northern League campaign on Saturday, and Netherfield made a glorious day complete for their supporters as they opened their campaign with a win.

But they were made to battle all the way for the victory spoils before clinching a dramatic 9 run victory against newly promoted Longridge.

The visitors showed no sign of being overawed on their debut at the higher level as they dismissed Netherfield for 161, but their efforts to reach that seemingly modest target looked doomed when they were reduced to 73 for 9.

But Longridge’s Australian overseas amateur Lachlan Bangs had other ideas and supported by last man Jon Millward, took his side to within 10 runs of victory before Millward was trapped lbw by Matt Jackson and the home side could finally celebrate an opening day win.

After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, Netherfield skipper Ben Barrow and Josh Dixon posted a steady first wicket stand of 52 before Barrow was caught behind by Zac Christie off the bowling of Bangs.

The visitors then began to rip through the home side’s top order, Millward bowling New Zealand Professional Bevan Small, while Dan Wilson picked up the wicket of Brad Earl and Millward then claimed his second wicket soon after when Lewis Edge was caught behind by Christie.

Netherfield were struggling at 86 for 4 and though Dixon and Finlay Richardson dug in for the hosts, Longridge broke the partnership when Matt Greenall bowled Dixon for 46.

Longridge applied further pressure after Greenall caught and bowled Lewis Richardson while Wilson claimed the wicket of Finlay Richardson to reduce the home side to 116 for 7.

Joel Blain and Matt Jackson attempted to rebuild the innings as Netherfield edged their way to a more competitive total before Longridge cleaned up the tail when Wilson closed with figures of 4-49 after taking the wickets of Blain and Robbie Dwyer and Ian Simpson bowled Jackson with Netherfield eventually all out for 161.

That total suddenly looked very daunting when Small picked up the wickets of Josh Stamford and Zac Christie and Jackson saw off John Simpson to reduce Longridge to 11 for 3.

Jackson picked up his second wicket after Luke Platt was dismissed and Netherfield continued to dismantle the Longridge line up when Marc Hadwin claimed the wickets of James Whitehead, Greenall and Wilson.

And it looked all over when Blain dismissed both Nick Wilkinson and Simpson to make the score 73 for 9.

But Bangs and Millward mounted a stunning recovery until the former Torrisholme player Jackson trapped Millward to finally seal victory and leave Bangs marooned on an unbeaten 95 which contained 8 fours and 4 sixes.

Netherfield travel to play Barrow on Saturday.

l Elsewhere in the Northern League, reigning champions Blackpool crashed to a surprise 36 run home derby defeat against neighbours Fleetwood.

The visitors were restricted to 158-9, with Keegan Armstrong cracking 32 off just 11 balls while Adam Sharrocks posted a crucial knock of 30 off 44 balls. Matthew Siddall claimed first innings figures of 6-59.

However Blackpool were bowled out for 122 thanks to South African sub professional Tyron Koen who returned figures of 5-32.

Koen, who plays for Staffordshire outfit Burslem, was deputising for Neels Berg who had not arrived in time for the opening game.

In the other games, Fulwood and Broughton defeated Chorley by 117 runs at Windsor Park.

Joe Fenton’s 45 and professional Simon Kerrigan’s 44 saw the visitors post an imposing 219-8, home pro Chamikara Edirisinghe picking up debut figures of 3-67.

And Fulwood claimed the win as Joe Fenton helped himself to 4-14 as Chorley subsided badly to just 102 all out.

Garstang defeated Barrow by six wickets, Michael Walling’s first innings return of 7-36 seeing a depleted Barrow team all out for 129.

Justin Pringle top scored with 50 for the visitors who were without a number of key players due to a wedding.

The hosts eased to victory with Walling posting an undefeated 44 as they cruised to a six wicket win.

In the final game St Anne’s claimed a winning draw in a high scoring game at Penrith.

St Anne’s posted figures of 221-7 with Nathan Armstrong top scoring on 67.

In reply, Zach Reekie’s 56 and Nicky Burns’ 55 gave Penrith a chance of victory and at one stage they looked set to take the spoils.

However, Thomas Bradley’s return of 5-77 saw Penrith close on 207-9 off 50 overs.