HAMPSHIRE failed to prevent Derbyshire winning promotion to the LV County Championship this afternoon.
Derbyshire celebrated their first ever promotion to make it a day to remember for Ross Whiteley who marked his 24th birthday with an unbeaten half-century and two late wickets in the LV= County Championship match at Derby.
Kent's defeat at Cardiff sealed Derbyshire's place in Division One next season and they will go up as champions if they beat Hampshire who closed day three on 142 for six, only 139 ahead, with Bilal Shafayat unbeaten on 52 from 151 balls.
Whiteley scored an undefeated 57 out of 275 and then took two for six from five overs to give Derbyshire the advantage going into the final day of the season.
Derbyshire's place in Division One was still very much in the balance at the start of play when they trailed by 105 runs with five wickets remaining and hopes of a substantial lead vanished when Usman Khawaja went without adding to his overnight 71.
The Australian Test batsman went for a firm-footed drive at a wide ball from Sean Ervine and was caught behind and David Wainwright soon followed when he edged James Tomlinson low to first slip where Jimmy Adams took a good catch.
But Whiteley blossomed after an uncertain start and with Tom Poynton secured two precious batting points to regain the leadership of Division Two.
Whiteley swept Liam Dawson for six and the pair had added 63 when Michael Carberry was brought on in the last over before lunch for his first bowl of the season and had Poynton caught at leg slip with his second ball.
Carberry had Whiteley dropped at slip straight after lunch but it did not prove expensive as Tim Groenewald got a leading edge to mid off and Mark Turner was caught behind to give David Balcombe his 59th Championship victim.
With Derbyshire only three in front, the game was wide open and the momentum was with the home side when Tony Palladino had Carberry caught behind for nine to claim his 56th Championship wicket and Adams was snared down the legside off Groenewald in the next over.
At 16 for two, Hampshire were wobbling and the home supporters had another wicket to cheer when Dawson pushed at Turner and Poynton pouched his third catch.
Shafayat and James Vince halted the slide by adding 41 but Vince mistimed a drive at Wainwright who held a return catch above his head and Ervine was lbw to Whiteley with Hampshire only 123 in front.
Whiteley had Michael Bates caught behind but Shafayat stood firm to give Hampshire hope of denying Derbyshire the victory that would give them the Division Two title