DURHAM eased their LV County Championship Division One relegation fears with a 54-run victory over title-chasing Nottinghamshire, thanks in large part to five wickets from 20-year-old debutant Peter Chase.
The Irish fast bowler became only the fourth Durham player to take five wickets in his first Championship game as Notts’ initially stubborn resistance was overcome.
The win was enough to move Durham out of the drop zone at the expense of Lancashire and give real hope now of escaping relegation.
Though they were always slight favourites on the final day, it was initially hard going for the Durham bowlers on a quite benign surface at the Emirates ICG as Notts went in search of the 178 runs they needed for victory.
John Hastings and Simon Rushworth shared the bowling in the first half-hour, with Riki Wessels and James Franklin playing cautiously but making slow and steady progress.
Having bedded themselves in, the batsmen would have looked to profit when the bowling changes brought on debutant Peter Chase and Paul Coughlin just over a dozen overs before the new ball was due.
Notts had progressed from an overnight 197 for four to 220 without further loss, but, just when it looked as though they might be ready to push down on the accelerator, they lost wickets in successive overs.
Wessels, having reached 90, was tempted by a ball banged in short by Chase and went for the hook shot, only to pick out Gordon Muchall on the boundary.
That brought an end to a 99-run partnership as the second-top run-scorer in the County Championship this season strode off the pitch visibly chastising himself for his impulsiveness..
And in the following over Franklin joined his team-mate back in the dressing room when he was given out lbw for 39 to Coughlin – the batsman clearly unimpressed with umpire Jeff Evans’ decision.
Those wickets tilted the game firmly back in Durham’s favour.
And Chase made victory almost certain with two wickets in two balls – dismissing Ajmal Shahzad for six runs, courtesy of an inside edge, and Luke Fletcher, lbw first ball.
Chris Read and Jake Ball steadied the ship, with Read reaching 25 and Ball 15, as the target dropped to 100 runs from the overnight 178, with boundaries starting to flow either side of the three-figure target.
But that man Chase struck again after Ball reached 20, completing his five-wicket haul, thanks to an edge to Muchall at third slip.
Notts put together an admirable last-man stand, with Read reaching 47 and number 11 Gary Keedy 15 as lunch was postponed and the extra half-hour taken.
Keedy was dropped by both Rushworth and Paul Collingwood as Notts inched forward, but Australian bowler Hastings made certain of a victory which boosts Durham two places up the table when he skittled the wicketkeeper just three runs shy of his half-century.
Nottinghamshire fought bravely as the 300 mark came up – only the sixth time it has been recorded in a final innings at Chester-le-Street – and ultimately their 320 runs were the third highest final innings total at the ground.
But it was not enough, as Durham took a giant stride towards preserving their top-flight status for another season.
The sides meet again, back at the Emirates ICG, on Saturday in the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final (10.30am start).
Members can buy tickets for £10, with junior members (15 years and under) admitted for £1.
The advance prices for non-members is £12 and £5, with the adult price rising to £15 on matchday.