There was however the welcome sight of Jordan Lucas on the bench, the former Bangor player had not played since picking up an injury in the previous league game against Saturday’s opponents back in November.
The home side had the first sight of goal in the second minute of play when Lewis Higginson and Mick O’Hanlon linked up well but the former’s strike on goal went well wide of the target
Distillery dominated the opening minutes of the game and there were further sights on goal from Timmy Clarke, Stephen Sullivan and Christian Irvine but none could find the target.
In the 10th minute of play there was drama at both ends as firstly Conan McAuley went down in the box when under pressure from a visiting defender, but the referee waved play on and when PSNI immediately countered Distillery stopper Jonah Nicholl had to come a long way out of his box to clear the danger
The first goal of the game came in the 15th minute of play when a Christian Irvine clearance ricochet off a PSNI attacker and then Joe Reid could only slice his attempted clearance into the path of another attacker who crossed into the box were the ball took a deflection and ended up in the back of the net, the goal was later credited as a Neil Dillon own goal and gave the visiting team a surprise lead.
The Whites had the ball in the net in the 20th minute, but the offside flag had already been raised against O’Hanlon and then from a well worked free kick Irvine couldn’t fully connect with the ball when it was crossed into the box and then Sullivan, who had been following in behind his team mate, could only loop his header over the bar and onto the top of the net.
In the 31st minute 41st minutes of play Distillery fans may have thought it was simply going to be one of those days.
Firstly, good work by O’Hanlon ended with him threading the ball through to Mikey Withers who turned and shot goalward, but the ball hit the inside of goalkeeper, Tom Hegan’s, left hand post and then rolled into the stoppers hands.
Then Lewis Higginson had the best chance so far to level when Sullivan squared to him after receiving a pass from O’Hanlon but with the goal gaping the young midfielder completely missed the ball from just a few yards out.
The half-time whistle ended with Distillery having had plenty of the ball and even played some pleasing football at times but lacking a cutting edge up top.
Half-time: Lisburn Distillery 0-1 PSNI
The second half had a slower start to it, Distillery were still controlling most of the play but just could not find the way to goal.
In the 53rd minute Withers made a promising run down the left but his cross into the box was blocked by a defender and a minute later O’Hanlon tried his luck on goal but again was the ball went off target.
Just after the hour mark a low cross into the box following a corner found Irvine but once again luck was not on the Whites side as the ball hit the defender in the midriff and he struggled to control the ball to get a shot off so left it for his defensive partner Joe Reid who could not keep his effort below the bar.
The equaliser finally came in the 65th minute when a ball forward was brought under control by O’Hanlon who manged to keep the chasing PSNI defender at bay to leave himself with only Hegan to beat and the number 7 did just that keeping a cool head to level things up.
Three minutes later and Distillery thought they were in front when Irvine rose high to meet a corner delivered into the box, but his header was cleared off the line and then in the 72nd minute Higginson won the ball back for the Whites in the final third and passed to substitute Lucas who like O’Hanlon was able to escape the attention of his marker, but this time Hegan spread himself to make a fine save.
The home side then took the lead in the 79th minute when O’Hanlon received a pass from midfield out in the left channel and cut inside and let rip with a curling strike that gave Hegan no chance as it nestled in the left-hand corner of the net, it was the third goal in two games for the Whites player.
PSNI as expected piled on plenty of pressure late on, but the Whites dug in and they saw few real chances on goal. There was one nervy moment in the first minute of time added on when a low corner caught the Distillery defence by surprise but eventually Nicholl was able to pounce on the loose ball.
To the delight of the Distillery faithful the final whistle finally blew to give the Whites three points to start 2022 and a fourth league win in six games.
Full-time: Lisburn Distillery 2-1 PSNI