A stunning half-century by Brandan Nash helped the Kent Spitfires to a thrilling five-wicket win over the Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Wantage Road to keep their semi-final hopes in the Clydesdale Bank 40 alive.
The Steelbacks posted 232 for nine from their 40 overs as captain Alex Wakely made 74 and youngster Christian Davis blasted 54 with Matt Coles taking 3-45.
Despite Con de Lange’s 3-35 the Spitfires reached their target with eight balls to spare as former West Indies international Nash hammered an unbeaten 70 off just 52 deliveries.
Northants won the toss and chose to bat and Kyle Coetzer was unfortunate to be run out for 11 in the sixth over when bowler Simon Cook tipped Rob Newton’s straight drive on to the stumps.
Newton himself thrashed 45 off 41 balls before he was sharply taken at short midwicket by Coles off the bowling of James Tredwell.
David Sales (15) was then trapped lbw by Darren Stevens and two balls later, Steelbacks wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien edged the same bowler to Tredwell at slip.
Wakely, however, hung around to complete his half-century off 52 balls and Davis later raced past 50 off 47 deliveries as part of a fifth-wicket stand of 89.
Wakely departed by smashing Coles to Sam Billings at long on and Davis soon followed when he launched Cook to Coles at long off.
Rob Keogh (1) was comfortably caught at square leg by Stevens off Coles before de Lange (18) swept Cook to Alex Blake at fine leg.
Jack Brooks (5) then departed when he was well-taken at mid-on by Tredwell off the bowling of Coles in the final over.
Chasing 233, Kent got off to a bad start when they lost Billings for 12 in the fourth over when Olly Stone’s delivery clipped his off stump.
Spitfires captain Rob Key then went cheaply on 27 by smashing de Lange straight to Coetzer at long off before Stevens (8) dragged David Burton onto his stumps.
Sam Northeast then fell on 44 by playing de Lange’s delivery on to his leg stump before the South African spinner claimed his third wicket by bowling Blake (8).
But Nash helped them towards their target by smashing 50 off 41 balls and former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones completed a half-ton of his own.
Jones finished on 52 not out and Nash unbeaten on 70 as the pair put on 107, scoring the winning run in the penultimate over of the match.
And it also ensured that the Steelbacks side would finish their home one-day season without a win to their name.