Northamptonshire took just eight overs on the final morning to take a giant stride towards Division One of the Specsavers County Championship,,ending Durham’s hopes of moving up as the visitors lost by 169 runs under cloudless skies.

Durham were left to reflect on a tame end to their promotion challenge after arriving in Northampton with a wet sail after going unbeaten in eight matches and winning five of those games.

But they were outplayed and captain Ned Eckersley was the only batsman to show sufficient resistance against Northants probing attack.

“Our captain played very well even though we knew the end was nigh,” said Durham head coach James Franklin. “Ned showed what quality he has as a performer and a leader and can be really pleased with what he has achieved in this Championship year.

“This week might have been a hangover from going to Lord’s and getting an amazing win there. That was a big occasion for some of our younger players who had not played there before. I am not making excuses, these are professional players, but it's also a young squad.”

Victory, Northants fifth of the season, moves them to second in the Division Two table with a game remaining. With Sussex losing at Derbyshire, Northants will be promoted if Leicestershire can deny Glamorgan victory in Cardiff.

Even if Glamorgan win, Northants will only need four points from their final match at Bristol to mathematically certain of a return to Division One for the first time since 2014.

The home side looked to be wrapping up victory inside three days when Durham lost their seventh second-innings wicket in the 46th over but captain Eckersley played another innings of admirable obduracy. This time facing 134 balls for an a deserved unbeaten 67.

But he couldn’t shield the tail from the second new ball. Matt Salisbury blocked back 55 balls on the third evening but lasted only eight more deliveries into the fourth morning. Brett Hutton swung a ball away that started on middle and leg, beat Salisbury’s outside edge and had him plumb lbw on the back foot.

Hutton and Ben Sanderson have proved a lethal new-ball combination since Hutton’s return to fitness and Sanderson took the final wicket as Chris Rushworth poked a length ball to Ben Curran at point to record a 19-ball duck.