County Championship: Tony Palladino finishes off Worcestershire as Derbyshire win
|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Chester Road, Kidderminster (day four):|
|Derbyshire 108: Morris 4-26, Leach 3-33 & 377: Lace 132; Barnard 4-48|
|Worcestershire 113: Reece 4-30, Hudson-Prentice 3-27 & 290: Ferguson 127, Cox 62; Rampaul 4-64, Palladino 3-34, Hudson-Prentice 3-42|
|Derbyshire (19 pts) beat Worcestershire (3 pts) by 82 runs|
Derbyshire's seamers did the job at Kidderminster as they saw off Division Two promotion rivals Worcestershire's brave challenge to win by 82 runs.
Tony Palladino and Ravi Rampaul took two wickets each, aided by the key scalp of Callum Ferguson for 127 by Sussex loan man Fynn Hudson-Prentice.
The Pears still looked in contention even after the loss of Ben Cox for 62, to end his 164-run stand with Ferguson.
But four wickets fell after lunch to help Derbyshire go third in the table.
They are seven points clear of fourth-placed Sussex and now 22 ahead of Worcestershire, who have a game in hand.
The battle for the three Division Two promotion places is turning into one of the most congested scraps since the two-tier County Championship was first introduced in 2000, with the bottom eight sides separated by just 29 points.
Ferguson dismissal the key wicket
After resuming on 157-5, having recovered from 48-5, still needing another 217 runs to win, Worcestershire hopes rested largely on Australian Ferguson.
He fluently reached his first County Championship century before losing overnight partner Cox, who could not get his bat out of the way in time from a skiddy delivery with the new ball from Rampaul, which cannoned onto his stumps.
Even then, the Pears still had decent batsmen to come and Ferguson shared 37 more runs with Brett D'Oliveira before umpire Russell Warren considered long and hard before giving him out lbw to Hudson-Prentice.
Palladino then had D'Oliveira trapped in front too, to trigger the loss of the last three wickets for just six runs and complete the Pears' third Championship defeat of 2019 - a result that took a lot longer than expected when 20 wickets fell on day one at Chester Road.
Worcestershire are back in action on Saturday when they face Durham at the Riverside (13-16 July), while Derbyshire start their match at home to Northants at Chesterfield a day later (14-17 July).
Pears first team coach Alex Gidman told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"We took advantage of bowler friendly conditions on the first morning and bowled Derbyshire out very cheaply and then missed an opportunity to get some sort of lead.
"I didn't think all of a sudden it was a 250-300 wicket in the space of a couple of hours but I believe we had the skill set to get the sort of lead which could have had a bigger impact.
"Similarly, on the third morning, having taken two early wickets, we let that opportunity slip as well.
"After being 48-5, when Callum Ferguson and Ben Cox were in, we were certainly in with a chance, and it was a determined effort to get that close. But it is very rare that you are going to get over 300 runs with only five wickets left on a fourth day."
Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman told BBC Radio Derby:
"We're absolutely thrilled to win a really hard-fought game of four-day cricket. Patience was the key, making sure we controlled the scoreboard and the scoring rate of the opposition.
"Their guys played really well in the first hour and made it really difficult for us. But we knew if we could get into their 9, 10, 11, then things could move quickly.
"It was a remarkable first day and the match defining contribution on day two and three was Tom Lace's century, and his stand of 99 for the ninth wicket with Tony Palladino.
"Because of that, we still had the buffer for the majority of the time of 100-plus runs and on this wicket it was a lot of runs to get."