Northamptonshire 438 (Duckett 134, Rossington 89, Levi 57, Wakely 56, Faulkner 4-63) and 283 for 9 dec (Duckett 88, Cobb 52*) drew with Lancashire 308 (Brown 97, Prince 83, Davies 51) and 206 for 7 (Brown 82, Horton 65)

Rain came to Lancashire's rescue in the LV= County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Old Trafford, with the hosts facing almost certain defeat after losing seven wickets in a poor afternoon session, and left head coach Ashley Giles admitting "we got away with that one."

At the start of play on the fourth day of this entertaining clash, the league leaders knew they needed to break a 105-year-old record if they were to snatch an unlikely victory over Northamptonshire - who were left frustrated by a result which hardly reflected their dominance.

"Ultimately you can't do anything about the rules and you can't do anything about the weather," captain Alex Wakely said. "I thought the umpires handled it well at the end because it wasn't easy. We were on top and it would have brilliant for us to win but it wasn't to be today.

"I am very proud of everyone in the side. From start to finish we played the best cricket and we basically controlled the game."

Giles conceded it was an escape Lancashire did not deserve. "I don't think we played very well, it was one of our poorer performances. It doesn't make us a bad side, we have played some really good cricket and are top of the league.

"But I thought we were under by quite a distance in this game and we can put it down as a blip, but we need to ensure that when we come back on Monday, we put that right.

"From the start of the game with ball and with bat and in the field, it was just a bit lacklustre. I thought we were at 75%. And Northants were desperate to come up here and beat us. And by rights they will be walking away feeling pretty hard done by."

The highest successful fourth-innings run chase by a Lancashire side came in 1910 when they made 404 against Hampshire at Southampton, but Red Rose fans were left dreaming of something special over lunch.

By then, Paul Horton and Karl Brown had made half-centuries with relative ease on a cloudy but humid day in Manchester, which saw the players leave the field 20 minutes early following a shower.

Horton did receive a life when on 20 after he was put down by wicketkeeper Adam Rossington, diving to his right off the bowling off Steven Crook.

However, it was only when the weather intervened later that the significance of the incident was revealed.

With speculation growing that Lancashire could pull off an unlikely run chase and reach the target of 414, Olly Stone entered the fray.

He produced a brilliant spell of bowling to remove Horton, clean bowled for 65, and then Alex Davies, trapped lbw for one.

When Ashwell Prince became Stone's third victim, after the South African edged behind for seven, thoughts quickly turned from a Lancashire victory to the prospects of a rare Northamptonshire win in Manchester.

Skipper Steven Croft was next to join the procession as he was given out lbw off Rob Keogh without scoring, before Brown's long vigil ended when he was tied up down the leg side by Steven Crook for 81.

Further joy for the visitors saw James Faulkner (nine) and Aaron Lilley (13) both falling lbw to spin, leaving the Lancashire innings in tatters when the welcome Mancunian drizzle began falling around 20 minutes before tea with the score 206 for seven.

It was hard not to feel for a frustrated Northamptonshire as play was eventually called off for the day with 43.5 overs to bowl, to Lancashire's.

"Ben Duckett was the star for me and he was phenomenal but Olly Stone also bowled brilliantly on a very flat wicket for the seamers," Wakely said. "Our spinners bowled very nicely too. Ben is class and has so much talent - he will annoy opponents because he hits the ball in funny areas. We're very lucky that we have a lot of talented young players at the cub and now we have to try to keep them here.

"Olly's spell changed the game for us. I could tell things were drifting out there and he came on and with that burst of energy he got us a couple of wickets. He's enjoying the fact he's staying fit and can string some games together and long may that continue.

"We have a very small squad and we need a bit of luck with injuries but at the moment we're playing some great cricket.

"They played very nicely in the morning session and blunted us pretty well. We dropped a catch which was massive and if we had taken that we probably would have won the game. But that's cricket."