Kent are swept aside by Copeland

Trent Copeland picked up his second five-wicket haul of the game as Northants thrashed Kent in three days
Trent Copeland picked up his second five-wicket haul of the game as Northants thrashed Kent in three days

Unbeaten Northamptonshire continued their impressive start to the new LV= County Championship season with an emphatic seven-wicket away win over Kent with a day to spare.

The visitors, having out-bowled and generally out-manoeuvred the hosts throughout the course of the game, knocked off the 104 runs required for a third successive win to remain on top of the second division table.

Seemingly well poised going into its third day, the game progressed in leaps and bounds once Northamptonshire’s attack took a grip on proceedings.

They skittled the hosts for a modest 135 in 47.1 overs with Australian seamer Trent Copeland again to the fore with 5-42 - and overall match figures of 10-113.

Resuming on their overnight score of 6-0 - a deficit of 26 runs - Kent suffered a nightmare first session in which they lost six wickets for 64 runs and saw top-line batsman Michael Powell retire injured with an arm injury.

The home collapse started in the fourth over of the day when out-of-sorts opening bat Sam Northeast was caught on the crease by a full off-cutter from the impressive 6ft 5in Copeland to go leg before for three.

Rob Key (9) followed in similar fashion in Copeland’s next over then young Kent hope Daniel Bell-Drummond was run out for four by Steven Crook’s direct hit from cover point.

Brendan Nash nicked to the wicketkeeper to give Copeland a third scalp and soon after Powell retired with an arm injury - the legacy of a blow he took in the field when at short leg on Thursday.

Northamptonshire sensed blood and rammed home their initiative with two more first session scalps as Crook snared James Tredwell leg before without scoring and then bowled Matt Coles (6) after the youngster needlessly swished across the line.

After the interval Kent showed some resilience through Geraint Jones who counter-attacked for a 72-ball 50 with seven fours, but it was all too little too late.

Home debutant Calum Haggett (12) was caught behind off Copeland then Jones, on 57 for his near two-hour stay, played across one to fall leg before to David Willey.

Copeland secured the match ball for his 10th wicket by having Mark Davies snaffled in the cordon and Willey re-arranged the stumps of last man Charlie Shreck to dismiss the hosts in a shade over three hours.

The visitors lost their top three in the pursuit, but Alex Wakely (14no) teamed up with former Kent all-rounder Andrew Hall (27no) in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand worth 40 that clinched the win by 5pm.