Lancashire won their fifth successive game in the Royal London One-Day Cup with a comfortable 30-run victory over Derbyshire at Old Trafford.
Chasing 240 to win, the Falcons slumped from 74-1 to 97-5 as the Lancashire spinners, led excellently by Steven Croft (2-20) strangled the visitors’ batting order.
The victory moves Lancashire up to second in the North Group and knowing another triumph in their game against Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Saturday should seem them qualify for the knockout stages.
For Derbyshire, the defeat was a hammer blow to their hopes, and they must now beat Worcestershire in their final match to have any chance themselves of finishing in the top three of the North Group.
The game was reduced to 38 overs per side after morning rain and that likely influenced Derbyshire’s decision to put Lancashire into bat when they won the toss.
It looked a good one when Haseeb Hameed was stumped behind by Harvey Hosein off Wayne Madsen from just the second ball of the game.
That brought Croft to the wicket looking to continue his recent good form having struck 99 in his teams’ win over Durham – to follow up scores of 110 and 97 in this competition.
And he looked in excellent touch again when striking Logan van Beek for a powerful six from just his 12th ball.
However, just as he seemed to be getting going, the 34-year-old was caught on the boundary by Luis Reece as he tried to deposit Ravi Rampaul into the stands.
Keaton Jennings was still there, although lucky not to be given out when offering Matt Critchley a caught and bowled chance when on 29.
He added 52 with Dane Vilas before the Lancashire captain’s tame shot was easily taken by Madsen off the first ball of Reece’s spell.
At 94-3 the game was well and truly in the balance.
But it would be Jennings, along with Lancashire debutant Jake Lehmann that forged a partnership which proved to be a match-winning one.
The pair batted for 14 overs in a sensible and well-paced manner, nullifying the Derbyshire bowling attack.
Lehmann started watchfully but was the more aggressive of the two, eventually looking to pick up the pace. A six off Rampaul in the 28th over signalled a change in his intentions.
Jennings did fall for 84, ending the partnership between the pair at 86.
Lehmann pressed on, despite losing two more partners in Josh Bohannon and Rob Jones, both to Mark Watt.
The Australian finished on 77 from just 67 deliveries as the hosts posted a competitive total of 239-6.
In reply, Derbyshire started brightly against a Lancashire attack without the injured Liam Hurt – who picked up what looked a nasty ankle injury while batting.
The opening pair of Reece and Billy Godleman put on 49 for the opening wicket but Reece would lose his wicket as a mix up saw him run out by Hameed for 19.
Godleman, a man enjoying a brilliant tournament so far, was joined by Madsen and the two experienced operators moved the score to 74-1.
But that was as good as it got for Derbyshire as they collapsed in dramatic fashion.
Madsen was the first to fall, caught on the long-on boundary by substitute fielder Brooke Guest off the part-time spin of Jones.
Captain Godleman was the next man out, the opener offering a simple caught and bowled to Croft.
Just four balls later Croft trapped Tom Lace LBW, and then Alex Hughes was run out cheaply as the Falcons fell to 97-5. They were in danger of heavy defeat as Critchley then came and went for 12, giving Matt Parkinson his first wicket.
To their credit, a seventh wicket stand of 76 between Hosein and Anuj Dal did add some respectability to the score.
Dal hit a spritely 52 from 39, until he was out edging Graham Onions behind to Vilas.
That left Derbyshire needing an unlikely 42 runs from the final two overs of the innings, an equation that proved too much as Lancashire continued a winning run which is their best in List A cricket since 2013.