DURHAM eased their County Championship relegation fears with victory over title-chasing Nottinghamshire, thanks in large part to five wickets on debut for 20-year-old Peter Chase.
The Irish fast bowler became only the fourth Durham player to take five wickets in his first championship game – joining James Brinkley, Liam Plunkett and Ryan Buckley in the Hall of Fame – 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 gives real hope now of escaping relegation.
Though they were always slight favourites on the final day, it was initially hard-going for the 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 Chris 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 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 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-highest 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 Sunderland seamer Coughlin – the batsman clearly unimpressed with umpire Jeff Evans’ decision.
Those wickets tilted the game firmly back in Durham’s favour.
And 20-year-old 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 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 No11 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 John Hastings made certain of a victory which boosts Durham two places up the table when he skittled Read just 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 record at the ground.
But it was not enough, as Durham took a giant stride towards preserving their top flight status for another season.