A slow start to the 2014 season deprived Ilkeston Rutland’s first XI of any promotion chance and their 2015 campaign also stalled at the first hurdle on Saturday.
A trip to Marehay, who yo-yo in and out of the Premier League, represented a stiff test for Rutland who hadn’t beaten their opponents since 2007.
Captain David Smit put the home side into bat and watched from slip as his opening bowlers repeatedly went past the outside edge.
Marehay looked rusty. Their running between the wickets put no pressure on the Ilkeston fielders and it wasn’t until the 30th over that their scoring rate reached three runs an over.
In that time they had lost three wickets including the watchful opener Ross Perry-Taylor who, having been dropped behind off the luckless Rob Green, had scratched his way to 49.
Marehay accelerated carefully as a driver might with a new car.
Rob Peat, who survived a big shout for LBW off his first ball from Ian Banks, made 45 from 55 deliveries and was supported by Jonathan Bradder (43 from 64) and Gaz Buckley (36 from 42) as the home side closed their innings on 205 for 7.
Rutland performed well in the field with the wickets shared between Green (2 for 49), Banks (3 for 40) and Chris Trueman Jnr (2 for 28).
On a good, firm track and with an improved batting order, Rutland fancied their chances. Surviving the overs would have won the match but that plan unravelled rapidly.
Marehay bowled well, attacking the stumps and exposing the early season frailties in the Ilkeston line-up.
Kevin Leatherday, Rutland’s star signing from Matlock who made 1,304 runs in his only previous season with the club, was first to go, one of three LBW decisions.
He was quickly followed back to the pavilion by Damien Jones and then George Moulds, the former captain shouldering arms to his first delivery and seeing the ball ricochet into his stumps.
The slump never really stopped and when Smit (36) drove Richard Wood straight to mid-off the fat lady was starting her warm up with the scoreboard reading 69 for 6.
Of the remaining Rutland batsmen, only Banks with 44 reached double figures as the visitors were all out for 128 with Peat taking 4 for 56.
After two successive relegations, Rutland’s 2nd XI are due a more successful season and they started they started their new life in Division Six South positively.
They put Rolleston 3rd XI into bat and despite struggling to take early wickets managed to hold them in check throughout their 46 overs with Richard Siddons (2 for 33) and Adam Slater (3 for 53) the most successful Rutland bowlers.
Their chase of 182 for 6 began steadily with Andy Flindall (15), Matt Parry (25) and David Robinson (22) all making starts but three wickets in three overs reduced them to 69 for 4 and put the game in the balance.
They were rescued by a match-winning stand of 116 between Slater (54 not out) and Richard Kelleher (55 not out) which brought up a six wicket win with two overs to spare.
Rutland’s 3rd XI now play 40 over matches in Division Nine North and they reached 188 for 9 against Belper Amateurs 2nd XI with newcomer Nikki Thompson smashing 68 off 58 balls and Grant Robertson guiding the innings with 93.
It wasn’t enough. Despite some tight early bowling by Alex Watson and Tom Lowe, Rutland were to let it slip in the final ten overs.
James Turner (51 not out) and James Deeming (31 not out) took advantage of the lesser bowlers, smashing their way to what had at one point seemed an unlikely win.