Morecambe began their Northern League title defence with a solid performance against Penrith at Woodhill Lane after a superb all-round performance from stand-in professional Brett Hutton.
Signed at 10.30pm on Friday night as the club still on wait on the UK embassy to grant Suraj Randiv a visa, Nottinghamshire’s Hutton hit a century before taking five wickets to ensure the hosts picked up a 12-point winning draw.
Winning the toss and batting first home skipper Josh Dixon opened up alongside Gareth Pedder and they started well, the latter the aggressor as he took it to the Penrith opening bowling pair of Paul Hindmarch and their new Australian acquisition of Angus McNeill.
Dixon went for 4 looking to force off the back foot but Morecambe took control of the game when Hutton and Pedder came together.
Pedder soon raised his bat for his first 50 of the season, an aggressive and important innings which helped turn the day in favour of the hosts.
No sooner had Morecambe begun to take great control Pedder was to go caught smartly at mid-off off the bowling of Michael Hay for 58.
With the score at 97-2 the stage was set for the middle order to shine alongside Hutton, however Ryan Pearson (1), Lewis Edge (0) and Viraj Bhatia (0) all came and went in quick succession as Penrith came back into the game.
Professional Hutton did find a partner in debutant Laurence Read (12) however and the pair rotated the strike as Hutton began to get into his stride.
When Laurence fell brother Eddy picked up the mantle and acted as the perfect foil for the sub professional as he neared his hundred.
An important contribution from Gert Maartens (7) enabled the Trent Bridge man to bring up his three figures and a well deserved hundred. He was to fall before the end for 114 but his innings had enabled Morecambe to reach a more than competitive 230 all out.
Desperate for early wickets Morecambe pushed hard through Eddy Read and Hutton, the professional providing just what was needed as he clean bowled Osbourne for 1.
Nicky Burns and Chris Hodgson counter attacked and the boundaries began to flow but Burns was soon to be well caught by Pearson for 24.
With the score 51-2 the hosts had work to do, South African Hay enjoying the bowling of Tommy Clough, never letting the off-spinner settle.
At drinks Penrith had reached 130-2 and champions Morecambe were on the ropes. Cue Jamie Cassidy who came on to replace Eddy Read and began to build some pressure.
Alongside Hutton the pair built a succession of dot balls with the pressure eventually telling as Hutton removed Hay (47) and Cassidy saw off Hodgson (80) as the wickets started to tumble.
Gregg Hall threw the blade for a few lusty blows however when Eddy Read claimed his wicket well caught low down by his skipper and Cassidy dismissed Paul Hindmarch (0) offering no shot Morecambe suddenly had a chance.
Tony Threkeld became Hutton’s fifth victim, a superb caught a bowled, as Eddy Read got in on the act removing Alex McNeil.
In the blink of an eye Morecambe had gone from being on the ropes to potentially winning the game. However Penrith were to shut up shop with nine wickets down to deny the champions a 15-point victory.
It was a mixed opening weekend for Morecambe as they exited the Royal London National Knockout on Sunday.
A depleted line-up proved no match for Palace Shield Premier Division side Longridge at Woodhill Lane.
Posting a well-below par 139-8 from 45 overs, Morecambe never going and lost wickets at regular intervals with captain Josh Dixon top scoring with 36.
Izhar Ullah also chipped in with 28, Eddy Read 24 and Ryan Pearson 21.
Ian Simpson and Alex Mason took three wickets apiece for Longridge.
In reply, the visitors were always in control and reached victory for the loss of just one wicket, Joshua McDowell (56) and Neil Holden (65) hitting half centuries.
Read took the solitary wicket of James Whitehead as Longridge sprung a shock.