Northants v Somerset: Lewis Gregory leads visitors to tense win
LV= County Championship Division One, Wantage Road
Somerset 375 & 249-8 dec beat Northants 221 & 351 by 52 runs
Somerset 23pts, Northants 4pts,
Lewis Gregory's career-best match figures of 11-122 saw Somerset to a tighter than expected 52-run win after a fightback from hosts Northants.
Northants began day four on 108-5, still needing 296 runs to win, but Kyle Coetzer (54) and Adam Rossington's (62) 76-run stand helped gain momentum.
Rossington partnered Andrew Hall (66) for 58, before the latter and David Willey (53) added 100 to reach 351-8.
Northants' record run chase
Northants' highest-ever successful fourth-innings chase remains 395-4, against Middlesex in 2010
But the pair fell in quick succession to leave their side still winless.
Northants remain rooted to the bottom of the division with nine defeats out of 11, while Somerset climb to second, 11 points behind first-placed Nottinghamshire after the leaders' one-wicket victory over Lancashire.
It had always looked like a difficult task on the final day for Northants and, after Gregory saw nightwatchman Olly Stone caught by captain Marcus Trescothick in the slips, Scotland's Coetzer was given a chance off the 22-year-old's bowling, dropped by Nick Compton at gully.
But Gregory had his man just before lunch with a yorker, before Rossington fell lbw to Craig Overton to break their resistance, after he had reached a career-best score.
Former South Africa international Hall then built up a strong partnership with Willey to give their side a chance of achieving their highest-ever successful fourth-innings run chase.
But shortly after their partnership beat Northants' previous ninth-wicket stand against Somerset of 98 - made by Desmond Barrick and Albert Nutter in 1952 - Willey was caught lbw by the in-form Gregory - who now has 37 wickets from seven Championship games.
And when Hall edged to second slip off Overton (2-76) Somerset went wild in celebration, knowing how close they came an improbable defeat.
Northants coach David Ripley:
"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."
Somerset captain Marcus Trescothick:
"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."
BBC Radio Northampton's Chris Egerton:
"It always looked an unlikely target of 404 for Northants to make, but they certainly gave Somerset a run for their money.
"They fell short of what would have been the county's record run chase, but the resolute batting of Adam Rossington, Kyle Coetzer, Andrew Hall and David Willey deserved praise.
"Rossington caught the eye with two scores in this match and they seem set to try to extend his loan from Middlesex until the end of the season.
"His skills are much in need as once again the middle order failed to show the requisite quality and it will not be long before Northants are relegated back to Division Two."
BBC Somerset's Stephen Lamb:
"Northants may have finished on the losing side, but showed true grit in taking Somerset beyond the tea interval and won the hearts of their supporters by coming close to a victory which required the team's highest-ever run chase.
"To come within 52 runs of a target of 404 was remarkable and owed much to Kyle Coetzer and Adam Rossington, then Andrew Hall and David Willey.
"The dismissal of Willey after the tea interval was critical and provided the excellent Lewis Gregory with career-best match figures.
"The tension in the Somerset camp was palpable in the closing stages, but they showed sterling character to finish the job and remain in the hunt for their first-ever County Championship."