Northamptonshire’s departing pace bowler David Lucas helped the county move closer to promotion as the Division Two leaders completed a 165-run victory over Derbyshire in the LV= County Championship match at Chesterfield.
Lucas took four for 75 in one of his last games for Northants before he joins Worcestershire next season to wrap up a sixth championship victory and a 21-point haul.
James Middlebrook followed his second-innings unbeaten century by taking the last wicket to fall to end with three for 78.
The result almost certainly puts paid to Derbyshire’s hopes of promotion but the home side can still round off a much-improved season by claiming third place.
They continued to show fight on the fourth morning at Queen’s Park despite being in a hopeless position at the start of play on 289 for eight, 205 runs away from a highly unlikely victory.
Conditions were good for batting and Jon Clare and Tony Palladino dug in for eight overs to frustrate the visitors who had tried to wrap up the game by claiming an extra half an hour the previous evening.
Northants opened with the pace of Lucas from the Pavilion End and Middlebrook’s spin from the Lake End of the lovely tree-ringed ground and both batsmen took advantage of attacking fields to take the home side past 300.
They had added 57 in 15 overs when Palladino missed a drive at Lucas and was bowled for 28 which came off 57 balls and contained three fours.
It was now just a question of whether Clare could get to his half-century and Mark Footitt survived long enough to see him to a well-deserved 50.
Clare nudged Middlebrook for the single that brought up his half-century which came off 78 balls and included nine fours but the game ended in the same over when Footitt pulled the spinner into the hands of Kyle Coetzer at deep mid-wicket.
It completed a deserved victory for Northants, who now have 195 points and are firm favourites to win promotion to Division One.