Here, a large-eddy simulation and a finite-rate chemistry solver (see Kahila et al. Combustion and Flame, 2019) is utilized to investigate diesel spray assisted ignition of a lean methane-air mixture. A compression heating model is utilized to emulate the ambient temperature and pressure increase in a compression ignition (CI) system. The key parameter is the start of injection (SOI) relative to a virtual top dead center (TDC), where the peak adiabatic compression pressure/temperature would be achieved. Altogether, five different cases are investigated by advancing the SOI further away from the TDC with constant injection duration. The main findings of the paper are as follows: 1) Advancing the SOI advances the ignition timing of the spray with respect to the TDC from 0.91 to 7.08 CAD. However, beyond a critical point, the ignition time starts retarding towards the TDC to 4.46 CAD due to the excessively diluted diesel spray. 2) Advancing the SOI increases the contribution of leaner mixtures to the heat release rate (HRR). Consequently, the low-temperature combustion HRR mode becomes more pronounced (from 33.9% to 76.7%) while the total HRR is reduced by a factor of 4. 3) Ignition is observed for all investigated SOI's. However, the numerical findings indicate that advancing the SOI decreases the ignition kernel size, resulting in weaker ignition. 4) An ignition index analysis with frozen flow assumption indicates that for the SOI's close to the TDC the HRR mode appears as spray mixing controlled, while for advanced SOI it becomes reactivity controlled, dominated by fuel stratification.