WORCESTERSHIRE were indebted to a determined innings from skipper Daryl Mitchell and Tom Fell but still face an uphill battle during the final two days of the LV = County Championship clash at Derbyshire.
Mitchell dug in and played in typically dogged fashion in making 67, while Fell reined in his more fluent style with an equally important 70.
But the Division Two leaders suffered a post tea collapse against paceman Mark Footitt on the second day after being 126-1 at one stage in reply to Derbyshire’s 356.
They eventually closed on 221-6 from 86 overs — a deficit of 135.
Worcestershire had to contend with the bowler-friendly conditions of cloud cover for the majority of the day and the floodlights on from lunch.
But Mitchell and Fell showed what was capable if you were prepared to be patient against an accurate bowling unit who offered them few ‘four’ balls.
Derbyshire resumed on 323-8 and Charlie Morris followed up reaching 50 first class wickets for the season on Sunday by completing his first five-wicket haul, trapping Alex Hughes lbw for 74 to end his 133-ball innings.
Morris finished with 5-54 and also had a hand in wrapping up the innings when he deflected a drive from Tony Palladino off his own bowling onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end and ran out Footitt.
Worcestershire suffered an early setback when Richard Oliver, who scored a career-best 179 in his previous innings against Gloucestershire, was caught and bowled for one by Footitt.
Mitchell and Fell’s 50 stand came off 127 balls but the captain had a let-off on 40 when he drove at Hughes only for Billy Godleman to put down the chance at gulley.
Fell had a slice of fortune on 35 when Wayne Madsen failed to hang onto a more difficult chance at first slip.
Mitchell went to his half-century off 134 balls and brought up the 100 stand in 44.2 overs as Worcestershire went between lunch and tea without losing a wicket.
But it was a different story after the interval as wickets began to tumble.
Mitchell fell in the first over after tea, bowled when shouldering arms to Footitt, before Alexei Kervezee (0) nicked through to keeper Gareth Cross two balls later.
Footitt struck for the third time when Tom Kohler-Cadmore (10) drove to Hughes at backward point.
Ben Cox hit three fours in his quickfire 14 before he was bowled by Wayne White at 169-5.
Fell’s defiance spanned four-and-three-quarter hours but he was sixth out at 191 when he lobbed spinner David Wainwright to short mid wicket.