Acting captain Adam Rossington made a battling half-century to secure Northamptonshire a draw with Sussex at Wantage Road.
Set 394 in 90 overs, Northants were struggling at 162 for 5 with more than fifty overs remaining but Rossington helped share two fifty partnerships to save the game.
Rossington’s 69 from 168 balls earned Northants 11 points from a third draw of the season ahead of a week off. Sussex were denied a second victory and were forced to settle for 13 points as they head home to play Glamorgan on Monday.
Skipper Ben Brown said: "We’re a bit disappointed, we tried everything but ultimately our skill with the ball wasn’t quite there and we didn’t get enough balls in areas to force the result. Apart from Mir Hamza we weren’t on it as a group with the ball this week and we didn’t give him enough support. Our attack isn’t at full strength and that probably showed here.
“After all the work we’d done in the game, we didn’t want to give it away so I felt we needed the extra runs this morning. 90 overs was enough to win the game and the pitch was still helping our bowlers but we just didn’t bowl well enough.”
But mid-afternoon, Sussex were moving swiftly towards victory as Northants lost 4 for 50 but the middle order resisted and the visitors were left wondering whether they declared too late.
After Ricardo Vasconcelos was held at third slip in the third over of the fourth innings, Josh Cobb and Ben Curran moved Nothants comfortably to 112 for 1 with a stand of 99. But, as on the second afternoon, a loose shot paved the way for a collapse.
Day 1 report
Day 2 report
Day 3 report
Curran wafted lazily outside off and was caught behind for 36 before Cobb shouldered arms and lost his off stump for 68 - both wickets to Hamza. Cobb’s innings was his second half-century in the game but again fell short of a match-changing contribution.
Rob Keogh was then pinned on the crease by Chris Jordan, was given out lbw, and a calamitous run out of Temba Bavuma saw Northants collapse. Bavuma, lightning between the wickets, pressed down the ground for a single that Rossington refused, and running back from half-way down, Bavuma was short when David Wiese threw down the striker’s stumps.
Rossington and Luke Procter managed to steady the situation and calmly played out 17 overs in a stand of 52. 187 were needed in 37 overs after tea - an equation that became an irrelevance when, seventh ball into the final session, Hamza moved one away to take Procter’s outside edge and the home side’s hopes were tased again.
But Hutton, who only entered the game on day three as Northants’ second concussion substitute, stubbornly knocked back 104 deliveries for an unbeaten 25 to help secure a draw with his acting captain.
It left the question of whether Sussex had given themselves enough time. After Phil Salt slammed 122 from just 104 balls on the third afternoon, the visitors looked like pushing for a declaration before the close. But a calm end to the day meant Sussex needed to come out again on the fourth morning to make their lead safe.
It took only four overs - where Ben Brown and Stiaan van Zyl added 47 - but seemed like runs that could have been made the previous evening. As it transpired, Sussex needed more time with the second new ball.