Director of Cricket Mick Newell believes Nottinghamshire have taken a significant step towards promotion after holding their nerve to seal a crucial victory over Northamptonshire.

Northants 285 (Davies 7-59)
Notts 283 (Swann 51)
Northants 229 (Harris 3-66)
Notts 233-8 (Fleming 50, Patel 50)

Notts won by two wickets
Notts 19 points, Northants 5 points

In a nail-biting finish on the final day, all-rounders Graeme Swann and Andre Adams kept their calm under pressure from the visiting spinners to knock off the runs with two wickets to spare, Adams sealing the match with a six off Nicky Boje.

The win means Notts maintain a valuable points cushion over third-placed Middlesex, who they travel to play at Lord’s next week.

And Newell said: “If we could manage to win at Lord’s I think we would virtually be promoted, as we would be taking so many points off them.

“I said before this match that two wins out of four would probably be good enough, and we’ve managed to secure the first of those.”

Nevertheless Newell was far from happy with the team’s performance and branded the batting from both sides in the match as ‘one of the poorest displays I’ve seen in first class cricket.’

He added: “I always look for the players to produce the perfect performance. That’s never possible of course, but it’s fair to say we can play a heck of a lot better than that.

“But the result is still a very significant one and it’s put a lot of pressure on the teams chasing us. We’ve not picked up a win for a while and the timing makes it a very important victory.”

On-loan seamer Mark Davies enjoyed a dream debut after Northants won the toss and chose to bat, as the Durham seamer picked a career-best 7-59 to bowl out the visitors for 285.

In conditions which seemed to favour the batsmen, both sets of players played some poor shots, with the Notts top order collapsing to 127-6 on the second day.

A typically counter-attacking 51 from Swann helped repair the damage, while Adams and Davies both made useful 30s.

That brought the scores virtually level and the Notts attack chipped away on day three, with AJ Harris picking up three wickets.

Set a target of 232, captain Stephen Fleming finally demonstrated the authority required with an accomplished 50, but his dismissal late on day three left the game in the balance.

Samit Patel (pictured) dug in for an uncharacteristically slow half-century, but wickets continued to fall before Swann and Adams saw the side home.

The only downside was two hamstring strains to Mark Ealham and Davies which is likely to rule them out for the foreseeable future.