Somerset hold nerve to pip plucky Northants

Northamptonshire produced a spirited rearguard on the final day of their LV= County Championship game with Somerset but it ultimately came to nothing as the visitors to Wantage Road went top of Division One for the time being with victory.

Resuming on 108 for five, Northants dragged the contest into the final session but fell 52 runs short of what would have been their highest run-chase as they were bowled out for 351 to stay winless in this year’s championship

Somerset, who will be replaced at the top by Nottinghamshire at the completion of their game with Lancashire, made early inroads as nightwatchman Olly Stone did not extend his stay too far into the morning session, pushing firmly at Lewis Gregory and edging to Marcus Trescothick in the slips.

Kyle Coetzer and Adam Rossington, unlike at other stages of Northants’ disappointing campaign, put up some resistance as they showed what could be achieved by a selective and patient approach.

With the pitch remaining good, Coetzer, who was dropped by Nick Compton from a hard chance in the gully off Gregory, moved to his first half-century since the first game of the season with his 10th boundary.

But in the final over before lunch, Gregory collected the first 10-wicket haul of his career as he speared a delivery through the Scotsman’s defences and into his leg stump, sending him on his way for 54.

It all continued in the same vein for the home side in the afternoon session as Rossington, this time in conjunction with Andrew Hall, ploughed on and his work gained some due reward when he passed 50 for the first time in the championship with a pulled six off Alfonso Thomas.

It took the return of Craig Overton to end his resistance as he trapped him in front for 62 with more than 150 still required. There was still a glimmer, albeit a small one, while Hall was still a the crease.

He and David Willey chipped away and, as they became more entrenched, their opponents’ agitation visibly and audibly increased.

It was down to 84 required going into the final two hours and, along with Willey becoming the fourth half-centurion of the innings, this had been taken to 53 when Gregory, who was excellent throughout, pinned him in front for 53 with a full-length ball. The end came in the next over when Hall, on 66, steered Overton to first slip.

Trescothick could not hide his relief when he said: “They played well to keep us out there as long as they did.

“They kept getting partnerships, they’ve got Andrew Hall coming in at nine with international hundreds under his belt and we were very worried.

“Going out after tea, we were very much thinking ‘how can we possibly pull this back?’

“We would’ve loved to have finished it earlier to get the points but it was two teams working hard for championship points.”

As for the losing side, head coach David Ripley was proud of what his charges produced.

He said: “We’ve been lacking a bit of pride sometimes and some of our defeats have been heavy.

“Over the whole four days we’ve won sessions and really competed well.

“There was a feeling there that we could get over the line and a lot of credit to the players.”

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