Lisburn's seven-match winning run in the Ulster Bank Premier League goes on the line tomorrow when they meet CIYMS, one of only two teams to have defeated them.
Indeed, the Wallace Park side will have a better idea of their title credentials after next Saturday’s round of matches because then they meet the other Challenge Cup finalists, and very much league contenders, North Down.
When Lisburn lost at home to the Comber side in their second match, they were rock bottom. Seven wins later and they are out on their own at the top, albeit having played at least one game more than their rivals.
They are certainly the surprise team of the NCU season so far but with match winners in professional Yasas Tillakaratne, Zimbabwean Ryan Ervine and former Ireland international Greg Thompson — they have scored six of Lisburn’s seven half centuries — on their day, as they have proven, they can compete with most teams.
In recent years they have struggled to get their best team on the field, invariably relying on too many youngsters to make up their team-sheet, but better availability and a consistency in selection has put Lisburn on course for the first top three finish since 2006.
It also helps that the runs are flowing again at Wallace Park. Last season, 150 was invariably a winning total but this year Lisburn have posted over 200 twice, plus a 197 and chased down scores of 169 and 163 with many overs to spare.
Tomorrow promises to their biggest test when they travel to Belmont.
CI will be joint leaders tonight if they complete back to wins; today they are at Ballymena to play their match in hand.
Waringstown, reeling from their double disappointment in the Challenge Cup and league last week, are at home to North Down today and could have the top of the table as the prize if they win at Downpatrick on Sunday.
Fixtures — Today: Ulster Bank Premier League (2.30): Ballymena v CIYMS
Tomorrow: Downpatrick v Ballymena, Civil Service North v Instonians, CIYMS v Lisburn, Carrickfergus v Lurgan, Waringstown v North Down. Sunday: Downpatrick v Waringstown.
Section One: Dundrum v Laurelvale, Holywood v Bangor, Muckamore v Derriaghy, Saintfield v Armagh, Woodvale v Cliftonville (Castle Grounds). Sunday: Saintfield v Muckamore.
Section Two: Academy v Donacloney, Cregagh v Drumaness, Dunmurry v Larne, Millpark v Dungannon, Templepatrick v Cooke Collegians.