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Red Rose clinch Division Two crown

Highlights from Bristol where a draw was enough to ensure Lancashire won the LV= County Championship Division Two title

Lancashire lifted the LV= County Championship Division Two title after taking nine points from their drawn game against Gloucestershire at Bristol.

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Collier was on hand to present the trophy to skipper Glen Chapple at the end of a rain-affected game.

Gloucestershire had begun the final day on 90 for three in their first innings, replying to 310 for eight declared, and were bowled out for 209 with Tom Smith taking 4-49 and Oliver Newby 4-71.

The Red Rose were 195 for two in their second innings when the players shook hands at 4:20pm. Luis Reece fell three short of a maiden championship century, while Paul Horton marked his 31st birthday by scoring 55.

Northamptonshire had to beat Kent to keep the race for the title alive. But that match always looked set for a draw on the final day and Lancashire could celebrate ahead of their final fixture against Kent at Canterbury.

At the start of the day, Alex Gidman and Hamish Marshall extended their fourth-wicket stand for Gloucestershire to 84 before the latter, on 26, was caught at cover trying to force Newby off the back foot.

It signalled a collapse by the home side to 155 for nine as Smith sent back Gidman for 45, Benny Howell, Will Gidman and Craig Miles in an inspired spell from the Ashley Down Road End, while Newby removed Gloucestershire’s Tom Smith.

It took a spirited last wicket partnership of 54 between Matt Taylor, who hit 26 not out, and David Payne to see the hosts to an unlikely batting point.

Six runs were still needed to avoid following on when last man Taylor strode out. But the 19-year-old confidently dispelled that fear with a cover-driven four off Tom Smith, his first runs in championship cricket.

Payne was last man out, the third batsman to be caught at second slip by substitute fielder Andrea Agathangelou, and Lancashire took a first-innings lead of 101.

The match could only peter out into a draw from that point. Horton and Reece put together an opening stand of 107 before the former was caught at mid-on off left-arm spinner Smith, having hit nine fours in his 91-ball innings.

It was 133 for one at tea with stylish left-hander Reece having continued his remarkable run of consistency on 56 not out, his eighth half-century in nine innings.

This time he looked certain to turn it into the three figures. Yet he was to look to the skies in disbelief when bowled by Payne for 97 off what proved the final ball of the game, having faced 133 balls and hit nine fours and a six.

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