FPs started the season in a rather disappointing manner, somehow managing to lose while only chasing 135 on a fairly flat pitch. Despite some good disciplined Mannofield bowling, FPs only had themselves to blame as the majority of the batsmen seemed unaware the season had actually started and threw their wickets away. Only Arul Senthil 46 not out and Rob Swiergon 17, came away with any batting credit in a wretched display. It had looked very promising after a typically fine bowling display from Sajid Hameed (4-13), a superb spell from Harry Mapplebeck (3-24) and a disciplined 2 for 36 from Gary Stuart restricted Mannofield to 134 all out. It could have been even better if it had not been for a counter attacking 40 from Graham Johnston batting at a rather low number 9.
FPs lined up Morrison, Keith, Swiergon, Senthil, McDonald, Davey, Mapplebeck, Hameed, Desai, Roland Knudson, Stuart and unusually Morrison won the toss. On a damp looking pitch, he chose to field. After a quiet start, Hameed picked up his 1st wicket, superbly bowling the dangerous Elliot for 3. New man Gill looked in good order, but on 5, he top edged a pull off Desai, where Hameed back-pedalled to claim a superb catch at square leg. It was 18 for 3 when Hameed won an LBW decision against Vaishampaignam for 9.
Wood hit one boundary, but was comprehensively bowled for 4 by Hameed and Hameed had his 4th wicket when he bowled Cameron for 2, Mannofield now 44 for 5. Hameed completed his 12 overs and finished with the excellent figures of 12-3-13-4. Mapplebeck and Stuart took up the attack and Stuart bowled Sourson for 28 and had Gavin Jamieson plumb LBW for 3. Mapplebeck claimed the last 3 wickets Horn LBW for 1 before bowling Barnes for 18 and Johnston for 40, contributions that were to prove decisive.
It was a good all round bowling and fielding display with the bowling figures as follows, Hameed 12-3-13-4, Desai 8-0-31-1, Mapplebeck 11.2-1-24-3, Stuart 8-0-36-2, Knudson 4-0-23-0.
After some heavy rain, FPs began their response and looked in decent order with Morrison hitting his 1st ball to the boundary and quickly helping FPs to 28 for 0 in 5 overs. However, Keith played on to Gill for 3 and Morrison was caught and bowled by Wood for 14 as FPs slipped to 35 for 2. This brought Swiergon and Senthil together and they played fluently and with minimal risk to guide FPs to 77 for 2 in 16 overs. Yet when Swiergon fell for 17, LBW to Horne, it sparked a dramatic collapse as FPs plummeted towards defeat.
McDonald slogged a 6 over mid wicket but was bowled by Barnes attempting a repeat, Davey hit his 2nd ball, a high full toss to deep mid wicket where Jamieson took a fine catch and FPs were now 87 for 5. Mapplebeck hung in with Senthil and lifted FPs to 118 for 5, needing just 17 to win, but he went for 6, caught and bowled Horne. Hameed was bowled 3 balls later for a duck playing an ambitious shot and Desai was LBW to Gill without scoring. FPs now 121 for 8.
Thankfully the rapid Gill, was sending down a lot of no balls and this was edging FPs closer, but the introduction of Vaishampaignam proved a master stroke. His 1st ball had Knudson given LBW for 2, although he appeared unlucky as it may had in fact hit his glove. Last man Stuart survived a strong LBW appeal 1st ball, but 2nd ball, he was called for a very tight leg bye and was dramatically run out as Mannofield won by 2 runs. While all this had unfolded, Senthil had batted with great discipline making 46 not out, hitting 7 boundaries.
Overall, it was a hugely disappointing outcome from a game that FPs dominated and was something of a role reversal from last season where FPs had edged out Mannofield. The game was played in an excellent spirit and was well umpired by Ian Kennedy in freezing conditions. Next for FPs are many people’s title favourites Ellon in what is sure to be a very tough encounter.