Essex Eagles will have a home tie in the quarter-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup after a four-wicket victory against Northamptonshire Steelbacks in their last group outing at the County Ground.
The home side, prior to the game getting under way, could have qualified for the knockout stage. But Derbyshire’s defeat of Gloucestershire, who could have jumped above Essex had they won and the Eagles lost, put paid to that hope and Mark Pettini’s men will now face Warwickshire at Chelmsford next week.
Having been put in, the Steelbacks racked up a total of 311 from 47 of their 50 overs. David Willey was the star of the show, his 93-ball 113 - his second List A century - dominating the innings as an indifferent Essex performance in the field was exploited.
After Richard Levi and Rob Keogh had put on 100 for the first wicket in under 15 overs, the latter the first to go for 50, and Kyle Coetzer and Adam Rossington had fallen cheaply, when Willey took centre stage with a perfectly paced effort.
He had by far the better of a 114-run partnership with Levi, the South African contributing a meagre 27, and after reaching 50 from 44 deliveries, he needed 38 more to make his way to three figures.
Levi, who didn’t hit a boundary for 60 balls after an initial burst, made 84 at nearly a run a ball but after he and Willey had departed, the last five wickets aimlessly fell for the addition of just 13 runs with Tom Westley (four for 60) picking up the final four in a 13-ball spell.
Essex’s reply started brightly and with the in-form Westley, who romped past the 50 mark, leading the way. 94 had been wiped from the total required when Matthew Spriegel got rid of the opener in his first over.
This was the cue for Mark Pettini to up a gear and after getting a life line on 35 as Rossington put down a sharp chance at cover off Graeme White, he also made his way past 50 with relative ease.
In conjunction with Ravi Bopara, the required rate was kept to with little difficulty and although Pettini, caught from a leading edge off White for 88, and Jaik Mickleburgh, yorked for 7 by Willey, departed, the visitors were still in control.
Bopara strolled to half century number three but he fell shortly after Kishen Velani to tighten everything up but although James Foster fell attempting something ambitious, the winning line was crossed in the final over.